Ramona Werst has a love for growing and cooking with basil. Currently, she has more than 30 varieties in her collection and she is adding to it all the time. She creates basil-infused recipes and would love to teach you how to love your basil! Visit Ramona's Basil Garden to download her free e-book, Love Your Basil.
I was first introduced to Ruby Jewel Sweet Red Corn on Facebook. A page that I followed was bragging about this newly developed corn, so I just had to try it! Then I had to figure out how I wanted to prepare this really sweet corn. I decided to pair it up with 'Spicy Globe' basil; the mild spiciness from this basil would go nicely with the sweet flavor of the corn.
Photo by David Werst
When making Risotto, you can get creative. It can be a side dish, an appetizer or even a dessert. I have made it hot and spicy, mild and creamy, and even sweet with a chocolate drizzle. You can’t go wrong with the extra ingredients that you add once you master making the base Risotto. It’s tricky and time consuming, but once you have made risotto, you will really be hooked!
Making chicken stock from scratch adds a richness to the flavors. I make the Chicken Stock the night before so I can refrigerate and remove the layer of fat from the chicken stock. Also, risotto takes a lot of liquid and using canned chicken stock just doesn’t add the flavor that homemade chicken stock adds.
I also make the Basil Oil the night before. When it refrigerates, the basil infuses into the oil and then is easier to strain the next day, not losing any of its flavor. The Basil Oil when drizzled over the Risotto adds just a hint of basil flavor and dresses up the Risotto.
This Risotto dish was served as an appetizer at a dinner party I was hosting and was the talk of the entire dinner. I could have made it the main course!
Take your time when making your risotto and savor each creamy, rich and delicious bite. It will be well worth all the time and effort you put into slaving over the hot stove!
Photo by David Werst
'Spicy Globe' Basil Risotto with Ruby Jewel Sweet Red Corn
To see the how-to videos for creating this recipe, visit Ramona's Basil Garden.
• 4 chicken legs, quartered OR 2 chicken breasts
• 1/2 cup fresh 'Spicy Globe' basil leaves, chopped
• 1 to 2 small sprigs fresh rosemary, minced
• 3 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
• 2 small garlic cloves, minced
• 1 to 2 fresh jalapeños, minced (if you are using hot jalapeños, use only 1)
• 1 small bunch of scallions or little green onions, sliced into rings
• Salt and pepper, to taste
• Large bunch fresh basil (I used 'African Blue' basil and 'Serata' basil. You can use any kind of fresh fasil)
• 1/2 cup grapeseed oil
• 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 2 bunch leeks, chopped
• 4 ears Ruby Jewel Sweet Red Corn, removed from the cob (1/4 cup set aside for garnish)
• 1 fresh jalapeño, minced
• 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
• 1 tablespoon fresh 'Spicy Globe' basil
• 4 tablespoons butter
• 2 cups arborio rice
• 1 cup white wine
• 8 cups Chicken Broth
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 1/4 plus 3 tablespoons toasted pecans, chopped
• 1/2 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded
Making the Chicken Broth
Note: I make the day before so I can refrigerate overnight to allow the fat to harden. Makes it easier to remove.
1. Place the chicken legs in a large pot and cover with water and bring to a boil. Make sure that that the chicken pieces are completely covered by water.
2. Add the basil, rosemary, oregano, garlic, jalapeños, green onions and salt and pepper to the broth. Bring broth to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer until the chicken falls off the bone and the liquid is reduced.
3. Strain the broth and place in the refrigerator until the fat comes to the surface and hardens (I usually leave overnight). Remove the fat and measure the needed broth. Place the remaining broth in an airtight container, label and freeze for future use.
Making the Basil Oil
Note: I make the day before so I can refrigerate overnight.
4. Blanch the basil leaves. To do this, I have harvested 2 kinds of fresh basil: 'African Blue' basil and 'Serata' basil. Rinse in cold water. On a paper towel, remove leaves from the stem. Gather the leaves and put them in boiling water. Stir them very quickly for only 10 seconds. Turn off the burner and drain.
5. Very quickly, place the hot basil leaves in an ice bath. It’s just a bowl of water filled with ice. Move your basil around just a little bit. And as you can see, the basil is very green. And the purple basil didn’t do anything except darken the color of the green. Take out the basil leaves from the ice bath.
6. Puree the basil mixture. To do this, place the basil leaves in a blender. Add grapeseed oil and blend until very smooth. Add olive and process until very smooth. Pour into an airtight container and place in the refrigerator overnight.
7. Remove the Basil Oil from the refrigerator. Set it out on the countertop bringing to room temperature.
8. Strain this into two parts: First, strain this through a strainer. Second, strain through a gauze cloth or a cheese cloth inside the strainer. This will remove any sediment. Just pour through a strainer and stir. And you can see the thicker pulp is staying behind. Discard the pulp. Take gauze cloth or cheese cloth and place inside the strainer. Pour the Basil Oil through the cloth and discard any sediment.
9. Pour it in an airtight container. The Basil Oil can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Roasting the Pecans
10. Place chopped pecans on a foil lined pan. Broil for 2 to 3 minutes watching carefully not to burn. Once pecans start to turn brown, stir and continue to broil. Watch them carefully at this point. They will go from toasted to burnt in just seconds.
Removing the Corn Kernels
11. Remove the husks and silk from the corn. Using a sharp knife, cut as close to the cob to remove the corn kernels.
Making the Risotto
12. Heat the chicken broth to a simmering boil. Turn heat down just to keep the chicken broth hot.
13. Melt butter in a cast iron skillet. Add leeks, Ruby Jewel Sweet Red Corn and jalapeño. Sauté at medium heat for 4 minutes. Add garlic and fresh basil. Sauté for another minute. Add butter. Stir until butter is totally melted. Turn heat to medium high.
14. Add the rice. Stir to coat the rice with the butter. Stir in the white wine until it’s all evaporated.
15. Add approximately 1 cup of hot chicken broth and stir constantly. The rice will cook and absorb the chicken broth. Make sure you stir constantly. Keep stirring until you can make a track through the rice with no liquid filling the track. Add another cup of Chicken Broth. Continue this process until the rice is al dente. You will use almost all the chicken broth. It will take approximately 15 minutes.
16. At the 10 minute mark, start tasting the risotto and add salt and pepper to your preference. Right before al dente stage, add the toasted pecans. Once you have a track add another cup of chicken broth. This should be your last cup of chicken broth.
17. Before you see your track, add the final butter. Stir until butter is melted. Add the cheese, turn the heat off and stir.
18. When you spoon onto a plate, it should jiggle and spread just a little without any liquid separating. The risotto should not just sit in a clump. Garnish with a fresh basil sprig, sprinkle reserved toasted pecans and drizzle with some basil oil.
I’m Ramona Werst, teaching you to Love Your Basil.
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