This summer-friendly corn and pancetta risotto recipe will make you almost forget that it’s tomato season. Okay maybe not, but sweetcorn is one of those vegetables we need to eat at least once every summer. When shopping for your ears at the market or roadside stand, ask the farmer to pull down the husk just a bit to expose the top. If you see anything other than plump, golden kernels bursting with juice, try another ear.
This risotto is delicious as a side with grilled chicken, although we prefer it served simply with a tomato salad and a glass of chilled dry white wine.
If you’d rather not turn on your oven, you can render the pancetta in your pot, then add the onion and rice to start the risotto. Made this way, the dish will have a more assertively meaty flavor – perfectly balancing the corn’s sweetness.
This corn and pancetta risotto recipe is from Marco Canora’s cookbook Salt to Taste. If you enjoy this recipe, you’ll love the book!
Serves 6 to 8
- 1/4 lb. thinly sliced pancetta
- 4 ears corn, husked
- 6-8 cups Signature Hearth or Organic Chicken bone broth
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- Optional: fresh herbs such as basil or thyme
- About 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, peeled and diced
- 2 cups Arborio or other short-grain rice
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Divide the pancetta between 2 rimmed baking sheets, laying it out in a single layer.
- Bake the pancetta until the fat renders and the meat is beginning to crisp, 7 to 10 minutes.
- Pour off the rendered fat and reserve it.
- Chop the pancetta; add the chopped pancetta to the fat, and set the mixture aside.
- While the pancetta cooks, cut the corn from the cobs. Reserve the corn kernels; break the cobs in half and put them in a large pot.
- Add the broth and bring to a simmer over high heat.
- Reduce the heat slightly and simmer until the broth has reduced by one-third, about 30 minutes.
- Remove and discard the cobs. Season the broth lightly with salt and pepper and reserve.
- Melt 2 Tbs. of butter in a rondeau or high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add enough oil so the bottom of the pan is generously coated, about 2 Tbs. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally until it softens, about 10 minutes.
- Increase the heat to high and add the rice. Using a wooden spoon, stir the rice with the onion and fat until the rice no longer looks chalky and the grains begin to crackle, 2-3 minutes.
- Make sure the pan is really hot, then add the wine. The wine will almost immediately begin to boil. Stir constantly until the rice absorbs the wine, about 1 minute.
- Add enough warm broth to just cover the rice, 1.5 to 2 cups. Cook at an active simmer, stirring and scraping the rice away from the sides occasionally. As the rice cooks, the broth will become viscous. Cook the rice until it is once again almost dry, about 5 minutes. Then again add enough broth to cover.
- Add the raw corn and simmer, scraping and stirring every so often, until the broth is incorporated, about 5 minutes more. (The risotto can be made several hours ahead up to this point. Simply spread the hot rice on a baking sheet and cool. Cover and refrigerate until ready to reheat and complete the recipe).
- At this point, add the pancetta and fat and no more than 1/2 cup broth. Stir frequently and add broth in small increments until the rice is just tender. Depending upon the age of the rice and how soft and brothy you like your risotto, you can expect to add 1 to 2 cups more broth in all. Just take care to go slowly so you don’t add too much.
- Stir in the Parmigiano and the remaining 2 Tbs. of butter (and the optional herbs). Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and serve.