Camping + Illness + RECIPE: Sweet Corn Risotto with Corn Cob Broth & Cherry Tomatoes

Two weeks ago my Carrot and I headed out to Buckhorn State Park for our annual Carrot birthday celebration. We hiked and lounged in our hammocks. We watched the doggies swim and we hunted for campfire wood.. We blew up the most ridiculous air mattress and slept like total babies through the night (two feet off the ground). We climbed trees. We played so many card games (I literally lost them all). We cooked so many things over the campfire and I read an entire book. 

I felt whole. I felt sane. I felt normal.

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Then we came back home and raced to the farm to get caught up just as fast as we could. We yanked onions from the ground and brought in the first (and possibly only) very lowly batch of winter squash. We worked hard to get back on track. And then, by about 5 p.m. we were keeled over, pretty much unable to move from a debilitating stomach flu.

Yeah, it wasn’t quite the return from camping bliss we expected.

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And worst of all, this baby took a while to run its course. After three days of heavenly camp meals, we didn’t eat real food for a full 7 days. Everything looked terrible. Everything hurt. We got beyond grumpy and into some pretty ugly fights, but somehow the farm (and our marriage) stayed afloat. (Thanks awesome employees and worker shares!!). And somehow, I also met my three deadlines for Madison Magazine (see pieces 1 & 2 here and here) before jetting off to Folly Beach for a four-day bachelorette party weekend.

Yeah, it’s been a crazy couple of weeks.

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But when our illness finally faded earlier this week, this was the dish we gorged ourselves on: sweet corn risotto with corn cob broth and cherry tomatoes with a side of tomato pie. To be specific, the first tomato pie of the year. It was, with no question, the best meal I’ve ever had. And that’s a pretty bold statement for our household. It may have just been the week of bland (or non-existent) food. But I think it was something more.

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In this heavenly dish, fresh sweet corn from the field is removed from the cob and then set to the side. Corn cobs and garlic simmer in a pot of water for an hour turning into the most milky broth you could ever imagine. Arborio rice cooks slowly with onions, more garlic and peppers before being joined by those fresh corn kernels, butter and a bit of Parmesan. The end result is perfect. But heavy. Halved cherry tomatoes thrown on top add the crunch, freshness and brightness a rich dish like risotto needs.

Love,
Your Leek

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SWEET CORN RISOTTO WITH CORN COB BROTH & CHERRY TOMATOES
Adapted barely from a genius recipe from Susige at Food52
Oh my, oh my this dish! This is hands down one of the most tasty things I’ve ever consumed (and I live a pretty decadent and delicious life). I love really any combination of corn, peppers, onion and garlic but something about this risotto just sings on another level. I think the corn cob broth is the real game changer. Don’t skip this step if you can help it. It adds a little time (but also can be left alone while you get things done around the house). Also don’t omit the quartered cherry tomatoes on top. It’s a simple thing but it adds the acidity and brightness that the rich creamy risotto needs. 

Takes 90 minutes (1 hour active cooking time)
Serves 4-6

5-6 ears sweet corn
6 cups water
1 tablespoon Kosher salt, divided plus more for seasoning
5-6 garlic garlic, divided
1/4 cup butter, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 colored pepper, diced
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup parmesan
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered

  1. Husk ears of corn. With a knife, remove kernels from corn and set aside in a small bowl (hopefully there is 1-2 cups). In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, combine water and corn cobs (sans kernels) and 2 teaspoons Kosher salt. Smash 3-4 garlic cloves with the blade of your knife and remove the skin. Toss into pot.
  2. Bring corn cob broth to a boil and then immediately reduce to a gentle simmer. Simmer slowly for an hour. Then keep warm on very low heat to add into the risotto.
  3. After the corn cob broth has been simmering for about 30 minutes, begin your risotto. Melt 1 tablespoon butter with olive oil in a large saute pan (with tall sides) over medium heat. Add onion, black pepper and remaining teaspoon Kosher salt. Cook until the onion is very fragrant and just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low.
  4. Mince remaining two garlic cloves and add to the onion along with your diced pepper. Cook over very low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Turn heat up to medium low. Add rice and cook for 2-3 minutes until it has absorbed any fat from the pan. It should look slightly puffed.
  6. Add the wine to deglaze the pan (aka get any browned onions off the bottom of the pan and into the risotto with all their yummy caramelization). Cook, stirring occasionally until the rice has absorbed all the wine.
  7. By now your broth should be nicely reduced to 4 cups of liquid. Remove the corn cobs with tongs. If you feel ambitious, run the back of a knife against the corn cob to get every yummy morsel of corn off the cob and into the broth. Toss the garlic gloves into the pan with the rice.
  8. Add three ladles of broth to the rice and stir. Let simmer gently, stirring occasionally until broth is absorbed by rice. Then add a couple more ladles of broth. Continue this process of adding broth, stirring occasionally and letting the rice absorb the broth until you’ve used all the broth and the rice is tender but not mushy. It should take about 20 minutes. (If you use up the broth before the rice is cooked enough to your likely just add a little more warm water).
  9. Remove pan from heat. Add reserved kernels, remaining three tablespoons butter and Parmesan cheese. Stir to combine then cover and let sit for five minutes.
  10. Serve warm with quartered cherry tomatoes and a sprinkle of salt.

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