One of my favorite features of my apartment is my kitchen. Let me tell you…the kitchen is the thing that pushed me over the hill. Originally when I saw the listing for the apartment, I was on the fence about it. But I got a showing and I was desperate so I came reluctantly. Boy! When they say God will not let you miss what is yours…it is my kitchen. It is beautiful. It is spacious. When I made the leek and corn risotto for my friend F. the other day, I had a moment of gratitude. I looked at her sitting on the other side of the granite countertop, and I said a quick prayer of thanks to God.
Leek and Corn Risotto
2020 has been a season of grief. This is the only way I can think about it. It has been a moment when the hurt and the pains that we discreetly carried as a country came to light. As a Black woman living in the Boston area, the months have felt like my deepest nightmares coming to life in front of me. I have felt unsafe and destabilized. The one way I know to counter that feeling into reach deep into myself and love my people harder. I send out more text messages to check on my village. I talk to my mother more. My relationship with my sister when off autopilot. I have more grace for my boyfriend who is working through the pandemic.
One of the intentions behind getting my own space was to give myself a sense of safety. I did not want to live in another environment where I felt like I had to justify my existence. No matter how nice my housemates have been, there have been moments where I have had to explain my blackness. Some of it felt harmless and lots of times it made me feel belittled. Living in the moment that we are in, with a pandemic and racial tension, I wanted to be able to create a space to let my guards down and relax. I did not want home to be another performative space. Enough is enough.
F. is one of my Black female friends who I try to keep in touch with often.
She is quite younger than me but is super aware and super smart. I know she is going to be a game-changer in whatever she does. I felt like it had been in a while since we got a chance to sit and chat. Now that I feel better able to navigate the risks of COVID, I wanted to have a safe meal for two to catch up. Leek and corn risotto seemed like the perfect dish to transition from summer to fall.
Nothing quite says comfort to me like a plate filled with starchy carbs, sweet vegetables, and a generous helping of cheese. This leek and corn risotto meets all those requirements. It also got bonus points because it went quite well with my slow-roasted tomato. I was so happy when I had the first bite of the risotto on my patio. It felt like a heavenly moment with good food, a nice drink, and a cool breeze. It felt like a dream come to fruition.
Making the leek and corn risotto is quite easy but demands patience and time.
Risotto is not a hands-off dish. It requires constant attention. If you are willing to stir gently, you will create a dish where the rice is allowed to cook and release its starch slowly into the flavorful cooking liquid. One of the things I like about risotto is that it is easy to modify to meet the needs of the audience. The leek and corn risotto I served for my friend was not vegan. I have written this recipe as a vegan one though.
Most of the joy in the risotto comes from taking time to allow the ingredients cook and develop their flavor gradually. The leek and corn risotto starts with a base of slow-cooked leek slices. The leek is allowed to cook in butter and olive oil until it is soft and translucent. Garlic is added to cook until you can smell the fragrance of the leek and garlic combined. This combination perfumes the risotto once you add the rice and slowly start adding liquids. The cooking liquids is important. I highly recommend using a vegetable broth that you actually like. Of course, homemade broth would probably be best since you can get it exactly as you like it.
You can build more depth of flavor by simmering the corn cobs in the broth.
Once the arborio rice cooks and becomes just the right amount of soft, I stir in the uncooked corn with a bit more liquid if needed. Corn kernels cook rather quickly so adding them at the end preserves the texture. The other finishing touch for non- vegan options is to add in Pecorino and/or Parmigiano cheese to add an even more creamy feel. Also, serve the risotto shortly after cooking for the best eating experience.
My other favorite thing about risotto is dealing with the leftover. I am always looking for ways to end food waste and boredom by transforming leftovers. In this case, a well made stuffed, breaded, and fried risotto ball that is a play on arancini or suppli is an incentive to make extra of the risotto. Of course, I fully intend to give you a recipe for the fried risotto balls. You don’t even have to ask me for it.
Leek and Corn Risotto
- 2 cups Arborio Rice
- 1 Ibs Leek
- 2 Corn
- 2 oz onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 8 cups Vegan Broth
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp white pepper
- Clean the leeks and slice into thin pieces of about 1/4 inch thick. Also slice the corn kernels off the cobs. Slice the onions and chop the garlic
- Add the cobs from the corn into a pot and pour in the vegan broth. Bring it to a boil on medium heat
- In a big pot set on medium heat, add in the olive oil, the sliced leeks and the salt. Stir leeks constantly while it cooks for about five minutes. The leek should slowly become paler.
- Add in the onions and garlic at this point. Cook for another couple of minutes. Be careful not to let the leek burn or develop color.
- Pour in the arborio rice. Stir for a couple of minutes with the leeks, onions, and garlic. Then add in 3 cups of hot broth. Be careful because the liquid might bubble when you first add it in.
- Stir the rice carefully and constantly. As the rice absorbs the liquid, keep adding in more liquid in a single cup portion. Keep test tasting the rice.
- Once the rice is almost done with about 1 cup of broth left to add, add in the corn and the white pepper. Then add in the broth and stir. Cook until corn is done in about 5 minutes.
- Time to serve risotto. Remember to serve soon after cooking for best results.
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