Sunday, August 9, 2009

At Market...Corn

Fresh corn is the sure sign that summer has arrived. Though we try to rush it, there really isn't much point because the best corn is the stuff that is grown right around the corner, not states (or countries away).

It was fun to watch the progress of the corn crops as we made our way across the country and back. In June, the rows were still small, with no visible ears. But by August, the corn was high and the silks were turning brown, a true indicator of ripeness. On the Cape, just towards the end of our visit, the so-called "native" corn was ready, and boy was it delicious. The kernels were tiny and sweet, just bursting with flavor. We hadn't quite gotten our fill by the time we had to leave, but fortunately for us, we have a local farm stand that grows fine corn too. And it opened just in time for our return to California.

Corn is best eaten within a day or two of being picked. And by now, you should know what that experience corn at its very best, you need to buy it at the farmers' market or at a farm stand. Though eating it straight off the cob is wonderful, sometimes it's fun to mix it up a bit too. When I saw a recipe for risotto with fresh corn and arugula in Food and Wine Magazine, I knew it would be a hit and a great way to make use of abundant corn. Though it is a pretty standard risotto recipe, it has quite a few (easy) steps, so it would be a perfect meal for a leisurely weekend evening, when you have some time to devote to meal preparation.

Corn Risotto
serves 4-6 as a main course

4 ears of corn, shucked, and cut in half
8 C chicken broth
2 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 oz bag of baby arugula
salt and pepper
1T butter
1/2 yellow onion
1/4 pound raw, spicy Italian turkey sausage, removed from casing
2 C arborio rice
1/4 C dry white wine
grated Parmesan cheese

Bring stock to a boil in a large stockpot. Place halved ears (8 pieces total) in the broth to boil for 3-4 minutes, or until crisp tender. Remove to a cutting board to cool and keep broth simmering on low heat. Meanwhile, heat olive oil and garlic over medium low in another large stockpot. When fragrant, drop in arugula and stir frequently until barely wilted, just a couple of minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove from pan.

When cool enough to handle, grate 2 pieces of the corn on the large holes of a box grater and set aside. Cut the remaining kernels from the cob with a sharp knife and set aside.

Wipe out arugula pan and add butter. Heat over medium low and add onion. Saute for 5 minutes, or until onion is soft. Add sausage to pot and break apart with a spatula. Cook until browned through, about 5 minutes. Stir in rice and grated corn, taking care to coat each grain with fat. Add wine and stir until absorbed. Then, over medium low heat, add broth, 1 cup at a time, stirring frequently after each addition, waiting until broth is absorbed before adding more. Continue in this way, adding broth in intervals and stirring, for about 20 minutes, or until rice is tender and most of the broth has been absorbed. It should be creamy and moist. Stir in corn kernels and arugula to reheat.
Taste for seasoning, sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and serve hot.


Trish said...

Oh my....that does look good!

Pam said...

Cute kids and your corn looks SO good!

Karine said...

This risotto looks great! Thanks for sharing this recipe!

Laurie said...

I can not believe I missed you on Cape. For some reason I thought you were here for the whole summer. Tonight I got back to blogging and saw in my comments that you left August 1!

I've been working so much, I've entirely lost track of days (and weeks). In the past month I've written four to five stories a week for four different newspapers and one magazine.

But I truly am sorry I missed you. Your adventures driving cross country are wonderful - both ways.