Saffron Risotto (risotto alla milanese) - Lombardia, Primo (First Course)

By • April 13, 2015 0 Comments

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Author Notes: To make the dish vegetarian, eliminate the bone marrow and replace the meat broth with vegetable broth Saffron risotto is a traditional accompaniment to ossobuco. The broth used in making risotto needs to be hot otherwise it increases the cooking time and the correct texture is not achieved. There are many stories associated with the origin of this dish but perhaps the most interesting one is related to the construction of the Duomo in Milano. In1574, a master glassmaker was creating a masterpiece window, Saint Helena. His assistant was nicknamed “Saffron” because he used saffron to colour the glass, creating a distinct effect. One day the master glassmaker was joking with his assistant saying, “I see you will even put saffron in the risotto.” At that time, the master glassmaker’s daughter was marrying a wealthy merchant. During the wedding banquet, four valets appeared holding large pots of golden risotto, flavoured with saffron. Saffron, the assistant, had asked the chef to prepare it as a wedding gift. The saffron risotto was extremely popular and became fashionable throughout Milano.
To see step-by-step illustrated instructions, please go to this page:
http://www.livingalifeincolour.com/recipes/risotto-alla-milanese-saffron-risotto-lombardia/
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Serves 4

  • 1 teaspoon saffron
  • 1 liter meat broth, hot
  • 60 grams butter
  • 50 grams beef bone marrow, removed from the bone, and chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 300 grams risotto rice
  • 125 milliliters white wine
  • 50 grams Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated plus more for serving
  • sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Put the saffron in the mortar.
  2. Grind the saffron to a powder by stirring with the pestle
  3. Bring the broth to a boil in a covered saucepan.
  4. Ladle 125 ml of the meat broth into a bowl and stir in the ground saffron and set aside.
  5. Heat a large saucepan or sautepan over medium heat and add 30 gms of butter, the bone marrow and the onion.
  6. When the butter and marrow have melted, turn the flame down low and cook the onion until it is very soft but not coloured (15 to 20 minutes).
  7. Add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon until the rice is coated, is shiny, and makes a squeaking sound, 4 to 5 minutes.
  8. Add the wine to the rice.
  9. When the liquid evaporates (1 to 2 minutes), add 250 mls of meat broth and stir continually.
  10. When all the broth is absorbed, add another 150 mls and repeat. Keep enough liquid in the pan and stir continuously so that the rice does not stick to the pan and cooks evenly.
  11. After 800 mls of stock has been added, strain the saffron infused broth through a fine wire mesh.
  12. Add the saffron infused broth to the rice, stirring.
  13. Taste the rice and add salt and pepper to taste. Keep adding the broth until the rice is cooked (about 20 minutes in total from when the rice was added). It should be firm to bite but not unpleasantly hard. There should be enough liquid to coat the rice but not so much that the rice floats in it. Remove the rice from the heat. Stir in 30 gms of butter and the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
  14. Divide the risotto amongst 4 serving bowls. Dust with more Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and serve.
  15. Notes: Variation 1: substitute red wine for white wine. Variation 2: substitute gravy from roasting meat for the bone marrow.

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