27 October 2011

Recipe: Risotto Milanese

Apparently, a lot of saffron used to come through Milan, owing to the fact that the city is in a geographical sweet spot connecting Italy to the rest of Europe.

Some fun facts about saffron:
  1. A saffron thread is a stigma from a flower of the saffron crocus plant. Each flower contains three.
  2. One pound of saffron is roughly the equivalent of 75,000 flowers.
  3. Due to the fact that it's handpicked, and from aforementioned fun facts one and two, it's the most expensive spice in the world. Perhaps, also because...
  4. Today, most of the world's saffron comes from Iran.
  5. It's the defining ingredient of paella. It also makes for a fine risotto.

  • 1/2 cup short-grain rice (arborio is widely available)
  • 1/4 onion, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 5-7 saffron threads
  • 1/3 cup shredded parmesan
  • 1/4 cup (half a stick) cold butter, in chunks

  • medium sauce pot
  • small sauce pot


Warm the chicken stock in a small sauce pot until steaming. Add the saffron.

Finely mince the onion. The onion bits shouldn't be any larger than a grain of rice.


Use the risotto method, of course!

Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil (and a pat of butter if you want) in the medium sauce pot. Sweat the onions for a few minutes, just until they start to get a little color. Add the rice and toss to coat in the oil/butter. Toast the rice for a minute or two.

Add the white wine and reduce until almost dry.

Add the stock 1/4-1/3 cup at a time and stir. Wait until the rice absorbs most of the liquid before adding more. It shouldn't be too dry before you add more, but it shouldn't be soupy, either.

Test a grain of rice as you get towards the end of the stock. Liquid should be absorbed all the way through, but you still want some bite. You know, the whole al dente thing.

When you're getting close, add a pinch or three of salt and stir in the butter and a little cheese. The cheese will thicken it up, so add a little more stock if necessary. It shouldn't pile up when you spoon it onto a plate. The word we used in class was "wavy." Go wavy.

Serve with more cheese. Sprinkle some minced parsley if you want to take a picture of it.

No comments:

Post a Comment