I've eyed the recipe in the Rebar cookbook for Parmesan corn risotto cakes many times. Of course this was always at times of the year when there was no fresh corn to be had. Finally it happened where I looked at the recipe and I knew I could get fresh corn. I set out to make these one day for lunch for a friend and myself, but without a lot of foresight. The risotto needs time to completely cool before it can be made into cakes. I spread it out on a cookie sheet and put it in the fridge (then was scared that that was the reason our fridge broke but no it wasn't) hoping it would cool down fast enough but it just didn't really work. It was really difficult to shape the corn risotto into balls (oh and did I mention that I completely forgot to add the Parmesan, it still tasted good though!) The next day when I had leftovers, I just took them to work instead of trying to make them into cakes again.
You can really see here how the risotto didn't shape very well into patties.
The risotto is made with corn stock (made using fresh ears of corn that have had the kernels sliced off), shaped into balls, covered in cornmeal, then pan fried. And of course you add the freshly cut corn kernels to the risotto. I had no idea how delicious fresh raw corn is when cut off the cob (and hopefully this is something that's okay to eat and not going to screw up my digestive system or something). The taste of the risotto was good, and the crispy cornmeal bits on the outside were good too. I have definitely discovered that I do not enjoy shaping things into patties and pan frying them though - unless the things I'm pan frying are really going to stick together. One time I tried to make potato patties but I must have let the potatoes boil too long because the patties were too moist - or maybe I should've just added some flour or bread crumbs to them. I really love the idea of risotto balls or risotto cakes (one time I saw Emeril using leftover risotto to make risotto balls that he stuck a piece of cheese in the middle of, then deep fried), so I'd like to say that I'd try it again. But if nothing else, the corn risotto was good on its own (with or without the Parmesan!)
Anyway, it was the grape tomato basil salsa that really stole the show here. I've seen the recipe before and thought I'd like to try it, but salsa was one of the many things I feared making (along with pie crusts savoury and sweet), and it requires fresh basil so I'd prefer to make it in the summer when basil is cheap. (Though now that I know how delicious it is, I'd like to make it all year round.) It was very strange that I had all the ingredients in the house to make this salsa (which was the salsa suggested to go with the Parmesan corn risotto cakes), because I don't usually have grape tomatoes or basil in the house. I'm extremely happy that I did though because this salsa is amazing. Truly truly amazing and so delicious. I will be making it again and again. (Which reminds me that I should make a list somewhere of all my favourite food so I have this wonderful master list to refer to.) There's balsamic vinegar in the salsa which seemed different because I've never had vinegar in a salsa (to my knowledge), but it was oh so good.
I served the cakes and salsa with sauteed zucchini on the side - local yellow zucchini at that. I was very excited about this yellow zucchini, but for some reason it ended up tasting very odd to me, like seafood or something. Now I want to stay away from yellow zucchini, though I really should give it another chance.
I wasn't going to post the recipe for the Parmesan corn risotto cakes but then after I wrote all about it, I'm sure someone might be interested in it so I'll just post both recipes. Though if you're only going to make one of them, make the salsa! Make it soon while things are still in season. If you're looking for other risotto recipes, you can check out the baked sweet potato and beet risotto with peas I made.
Grape Tomato Salsa
(adapted from Rebar)
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 garlic clove, minced
3 scallions, greens only, minced
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
salt and cracked pepper to taste
Slice grape tomatoes into quarters. Toss with remaining ingredients, season to taste.
Parmesan Corn Risotto Cakes
Fresh corn stock
4 ears fresh corn, kernels removed and reserved
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 bay leaves
few springs fresh oregano, parsley or thyme
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 tsp coarse salt
8 cups cold water
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup arborio rice
2 cups fresh corn
1 cup white wine
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup fine cornmeal
Note: Make the risotto the day before you want to make the cakes so the risotto has lots of time to cool completely. If you just want to eat the risotto and not make cakes, then obviously this doesn't apply.
1. Place stock into a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes. Strain to a boil and simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes. Strain and keep warm (you will need 4-5 cups in total).
2. Heat butter and olive oil in a large heavy saucepan and saute onion and garlic until translucent. Add the rice and cook, stirring until the rice is well coated. Add the corn, season with salt and saute for several minutes. Pour in the wine and simmer until asborbed. Now start adding warm corn stock, one cup at a time. Keep stirring and add the next cup of stock only when most of the liquid is absorbed. Now start adding warm corn stock, one cup at a time. Keep stirring and add the next cup of stock only when most of the liquid is basorbed and the rice still looks creamy. When the rice is tender but the grains still slightly firm to the bite, remove risotto from the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese. (Stop here if you are just making the risotto and not the cakes.) Season to taste and spraed the risotto into a baking pan to speed cooling. Cover and refrigerate.
3. To saute cakes, form the risotto into 2 1/2" round cakes and dredge in cornmeal. Fry in hot olive oil unitl golden and crispy on both sides.