It’s been weeks, perhaps months, since we made up some risotto here at Scratchin’ It central; all the employees were excited by the prospect of having Creamy Corn and Morel Risotto as part of dinner. Now, if you don’t have morel mushrooms, don’t fret, because this will be good with any mushrooms (or even without), so feel free to continue reading if you want a great meal.
We’ve had dried morel mushrooms in the cupboard for a while and wanted a dish that would show them off. They’re expensive; actually, we aren’t really sure if they’re worth the price, but we’d bought a bag without knowing how they taste. We ordered ours from Oregon Mushrooms LLC. We list them as a resource for you, because we’re pleased with our orders from them.
This recipe is based on our years of making risotto. We’re sure we followed some recipe in the past, but the source is lost in the mists of time.
As we said above, feel free to substitute other types of mushrooms: porcini, oyster, crimini, or even ordinary white mushrooms. To get the traditional creamy risotto, you need arborio rice (there are others that work, but arborio is the most common), which releases starch as it cooks, making a creamy gravy. And don’t skimp on the cheese, really. There’s a reason real Grana Padano or Parmesan is so expensive. It’s delicious and there are no substitutes. There are a lot of “cheeses” that claim to be Parmesan, but, to be real Parmesan, it must come from the Parma region of Italy. Grana Padano is quite similar — it’s made the same way as Parmesan — but can be made elsewhere in Italy, so it’s less expensive.
Procedure in detail:
Heat stock. One of the secrets to making risotto is to add hot stock only. This keeps the rice cooking and releasing starches as you work, instead of having it cool down after each addition, which would stop releasing the starch. So, place the stock in a saucepan and bring it to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce the heat even further to keep it hot and steaming.
Cook onions and garlic. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once melted and foamy, add the onion and garlic — we like to sprinkle them with a bit of salt and pepper right at the beginning — and cook, stirring very often, until translucent and tender, about 5 minutes. Try not to let them brown; instead, try to get that delicious soft onion-garlic mixture.
Add mushrooms. Stir in the morel pieces and cook for about another 5 minutes.
Add rice and coat. Add the arborio rice and stir to coat. Some people suggest toasting the rice at this stage, basically cooking it in the butter until it smells toasty. We don’t suggest that, as we find that cooking the rice more than a minute, or two at the most, will “seal” the rice, making it harder to release the starch during later cooking stages. Just stir the rice until it’s coated and glossy.
Add wine. Pour in the wine and start stirring. This is practice for what’s coming. Keep stirring until all the wine has evaporated and is absorbed, but the rice hasn’t started to stick to the pan, about 5 minutes.
Add stock and stir. Add about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the hot stock — a ladle comes in handy here to scoop the stock into the rice. Now stir. Just a nice, even stirring, nothing ferocious. Keep stirring, and, just as with the wine, continue until all the stock is absorbed or evaporated.
Repeat. Keep adding stock and stirring in just the same way. You’ll notice that, each time, the broth is creamier than the last. After about 3 additions, perhaps 15 minutes, test the rice for doneness. Bite into a grain to check its crunchiness. You want the center just slightly crunchy. Not chewy, but slightly crunchy, as if there’s a nugget of raw rice in the very center. This is the cue that your rice will be done perfectly in about 5-7 minutes.
Add corn. Stir in the corn kernels and more stock. Continue stirring and testing the rice as you work. You want the corn to cook along with the rice, and you want the center of the rice slightly chewy. When your rice is ready, remove it from the heat.
Stir in cheese. Add the Grana Padano and stir it in. Cover the risotto and let it stand for about 5 minutes so the cheese can melt. Then, give everything a bit of a stir. If your risotto isn’t creamy enough, add a couple of tablespoons of stock (or cream, or a tablespoon of butter), and stir it in.
Season. Taste, and add salt and pepper, as needed. If you think it needs a bit more cheese, add that now, too.
Serve. Sprinkle a bit of additional Grana Padano on top for garnish.
It’s risotto made with mushrooms and fresh corn, what’s not to love? We think risotto is the ultimate comfort food; rich, creamy, cheesy, sort of like good mac ‘n’ cheese, but more grown up. Something for a special occasion, although we often consider Saturday or Sunday evening to be special enough. We know it may seem like a lot of effort, and, in some respects, it is, but we think it’s so worth it. Five stars filled with cheese.