A Cook's Guide to Grains
by Jenni Muir
Mixed grain risottos are proving a fun area of experimentation for many chefs cooking in a contemporary style. Almost anything goes, depending on your tastes, but retaining the white rice is key when coaxing anyone wary of unusual grains into trying such a dish. Here the surprising use of sweetcorn adds a pleasing fresh chewiness that appeals to many people who don't like traditional risotto. This recipe is similar to one enjoyed at Bobby Flay's sensational Mesa Grill in New York and was served at my engagement party with much success.
• 850ml / 3 3/4 cups rich vegetable or chicken stock
• 2 large ears sweetcorn, about 16cm / 6 1/2 in long, husked and strings removed
• 6 spring onions
• 50g / 1/4 cup butter
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 300g / 1 1/2 cups risotto rice
• 150ml / 2/3 cup white wine
• 50-75g / 1/2--3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated, plus extra to serve
• salt and pepper
Put the stock into a small saucepan and bring slowly to the boil. Meanwhile, remove the kernels from the sweetcorn and place them in a bowl with the creamy juices they exude. Break up any clusters of kernels, then set aside. Chop the spring onions, keeping the white and green parts separate.
In a large, heavy saucepan, melt half the butter with the oil over a moderate heat. Add the white parts of the spring onions and saute for 5 minutes or until soft and tender but not browned.
Add the rice and cook for a few minutes, stirring, until the grains are shiny and becoming translucent. Pour in the wine and keep stirring the rice until the liquid bubbles away.
Add a ladle of the simmering stock and make a note of the time. Cook, stirring constantly until the rice has absorbed all the stock. Then add another ladle of hot stock and repeat the process.
Once you have been adding stock and stirring the risotto for 15 minutes, add the corn kernels, their juices and 4 heaped tbsp of the reserved green parts of the spring onions. Continue adding stock and stirring the risotto for 5 minutes.
Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese and the remaining butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with a little of the leftover spring onions and serve immediately with extra cheese.