Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sweet, sweet risotto

I know risotto is a word that strikes fear into many chefs, both home chefs and professional.  I mean, if you make risotto on Top Chef, you are almost certainly going to go home.  I think people envision this laborious process that involves standing in front of the stove for hours constantly stirring this God. Forsaken. Rice.  But I am here to tell you that simply isn't the case!  Over the years, risotto has become a cornerstone meal in my repertoire, so I thought it would be the ideal first recipe post.  It takes a little bit of love, but it is the good kind of love that I am looking to share.  It is a dish that lends great variety and is the perfect stage for whatever vegetable may be in your crisper (but fingers crossed that vegetable is asparagus!  Because that is my favorite kind of risotto... but not the one we are making today). 

Quick confession, I have developed this recent unexplainable obsession with corn.  It is delicious.  Especially if in the form of soup.  Anyways, there isn't much more to say on the subject.  

But, that allowed me to segue into the type of risotto we have here today (ha, who knew scientists could be so clever with writing!):  

Corn and spinach risotto with a spicy mascarpone sauce

The chili and corn give it a bit of a Mexican kick, while the corn also adds a hint of sweetness.  The spinach acts as a flavor missile that releases juicy spinachy goodness with every bite.  The mascarpone cools down the chili and brings everything together. Yum. 

  • 1 cup arborio rice 
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil 
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, warmed
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • as many cloves of garlic as you can handle (ok, 2 or 3 will suffice), crushed
  • 1 cup corn kernels (I used Trader Joe's frozen sweet corn kernels... good stuff)
  • 2 cups spinach, lightly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons mascarpone
  • dash of chili powder 
  • salt 
  • pepper


  1. Pre-rinse the rice under running water.
    • This will remove a bunch of residual starch and help prevent clumping of the risotto.
  2. Add the olive oil to a medium sized sauce pan over medium heat (think 6 on an electric stove).
  3. Add the onions and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic to the onions and sauté just until you can smell the garlic.
    • Take a big whiff.  There is no better smell than onions and garlic cooking :-).
  5. Add the pre-rinsed arborio rice.
  6. Give the rice a good mix in with the onions, garlic, and olive oil until it is well coated and cook, while stirring, until the rice is translucent, about 7 minutes.
  7. Add the wine to the rice and cook until the wine has completely evaporated.
  8. Start adding the stock about 1/3 cup at a time.
    • Continuously stir as the rice absorbs each bolus of stock.
    • Be sure not to add the next bit until the last is completely absorbed!
  9. Add the spinach to the rice about 3/4 of the way through the cooking time.
  10. Add the corn shortly thereafter.
  11. Continue adding stock until the rice is about done and still has a bit of a bite to it... we don't want mushy rice here.
  12. Add the mascarpone cheese and chili powder and stir until creamy.
  13. Enjoy immediately :-)

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