by Karin Calloway
Corn and bacon are a perennial combination. What would your favorite corn chowder be without some crumbled bacon? The combo is even present in the classic Southern combination of cornbread and greens. (Of course, the greens are cooked with bacon or its saltier counterpart, fatback.)
After a recent visit to a delightful bistro, I sampled a new way to enjoy these perfectly paired flavors. The Lobster-Corn Risotto I enjoyed was one of the best dishes I’ve ever sampled. So, without delay, I came home and created a simpler version for the home cook. The chef’s risotto included pancetta, an Italian bacon, and mascarpone cheese. While many supermarkets carry these ingredients, I opted to use traditional American bacon and cream cheese, which are more readily available. Feel free to substitute the gourmet ingredients if your market carries them.
The resulting risotto is a sublime combination of fresh sweet corn, smoky bacon and creamy al dente rice. Serve the risotto as a side dish to grilled chicken, or add some peeled and deveined shrimp to the risotto just before serving for a great entrée.
Sauté bacon in a medium saucepan over medium heat until crisp. Remove from saucepan with a slotted spoon and place on a paper-towel lined plate. Set aside. Add shallots to pan and sauté until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in rice, coating well with the bacon fat and shallots.
Stir in 2/3 cup broth. Cook until broth is absorbed. Add remaining broth 1/3 cup at a time, allowing it to be completely absorbed before adding more, until only 1/3 cup of broth is left. Stir in remaining 1/3 cup of broth with the corn and allow broth to absorb and corn to gently cook. Remove from heat and stir in bacon and cream cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper before serving.
Makes 6 to 8 side-dish servings.
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