The first thing that I want to do, is apologize for the horrifically terrible quality of these photos. I made this dish while I was visiting my family in Florida, without my talented photographer, Mikey, and it was just too tasty not to share with you guys (hence the poorly lighted iPhone pictures that I could not save in Photoshop)!
Risotto is one of my very favorite dishes to cook. Because I have gotten so familiar with it over the years, it’s one of my go-to menu items if I’m looking to impress. A lot of people talk about how finicky cooking it can be, or how tough it can be to nail, but as long as your paying attention the whole time, it should really be a no-brainer.
This particular risotto just may be my favorite that I have ever made. I really enjoy that the corn is used in the risotto in two separate ways: blended into the base, and whole kernels stirred in. The blended corn makes for an extra creamy risotto, while the kernels lend an added crunch to the dish. The real crunch, however, comes from the basil breadcrumbs. My dad, who is very much into crunchy food, grabbed himself an extra handful for his bowl of risotto!
My favorite part, of course, was the egg on top. I am of the camp that believes that an egg yolk can make anything better (Plus, egg yolk and pork together? When does that not work??)! When you stir the egg yolk into the risotto, you get an extra richness that is extremely satisfying. The fresh basil and chives add a degree of freshness to the dish, to round everything out.
Corn Risotto with Basil Breadcrumbs, Pancetta, and a Fried Egg
serves 5-6 as a main dish
basil bread crumbs:
- 1/2 baguette, torn into chunks
- large handful fresh basil
- pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 ears corn, shucked and kernels cut from the cobs
- 3/4 cup Sauvignon Blanc (or other dry white wine)
- 4-5 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 sweet onion, diced
- 1/3 lb pancetta, chopped
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- 2 tbsp chopped basil + more for garnish
- 2 tbsp chopped chives + more for garnish
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 1/2 tbsp mascarpone
- 1/2-1/3 cup grated parmigiana reggiano
- salt and pepper, to taste
- as many large eggs as servings
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In a food processor, combine the baguette chunks and basil. Process until very small crumbs are formed.
- Pour the basil crumbs into a bowl and drizzle in the olive oil. Toss to fully coat. Season, to taste, with salt.
- Spread the crumbs out onto a baking sheet, and bake in the oven for 10-20 minutes until golden brown. Set aside to cool.
- Pour the chicken stock into a small sauce pan, and heat over medium heat.
- Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta, and cook until crispy. Remove the pieces with a slotted spoon, and place on a paper towel to drain.
- Add the onion to the remaining pork fat, and cook for 5-6 minutes until softened. Add in the rice and toast up the kernels for a couple minutes. Pour in the wine and stir, being sure to loosen up any browned bits at the bottom of the pan. Begin adding the broth, 1-2 ladlefuls at a time, stirring until it has been fully absorbed by the rice before adding more.
- Meanwhile, puree half of the corn kernels in a food processor. Set aside.
- In the last 5-10 minutes of the risotto cooking time, stir in the pureed corn and the kernels. Continue to add both as necessary. The risotto is done when the rice still has a slight bite, but is not hard (the whole process should take about 25-35 minutes).
- In a small saute pan, fry up as many eggs as you need in a little butter (I cooked mine over-medium). Season the eggs and set aside.
- When the risotto is ready, turn off the heat. Stir in the basil, chives, butter, mascarpone, parmigiana reggiano (leave a small bit out to garnish with), and 3/4 of the cooked pancetta. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- To serves, scoop the risotto into your bowls. Top each with an egg, a generous sprinkling of the basil breadcrumbs, a bit of the reserved pancetta, some chives and basil, and a pinch of parmigiana reggiano.