Risotto Milanese (Saffron Risotto)

>> Wednesday, November 20, 2013

cooking risotto to a creamy consistency

Joe taught me how to cook risotto, which is a much different technique than cooking rice. You put rice and water and seasonings into a pan and simmer it for 20 minutes or so, then fluff it up at the end. Risotto is cooked with small amounts of liquid stirred in here and there while the short fat grains become tender and creamy in the sauce.

This risotto with saffron (ground or in threads) is perhaps the most classic preparation. I intended to look up the reason why this recipe is called Milan-style and why it uses saffron and onion together. But Thursday I had a photo shoot on Chicago L trains and a French small plates cooking demonstration.

Commuter on the Skokie Swift
Commuter on the Skokie Swift

L train pulling into the Merchandise Mart stop
L train pulling into the Merchandise Mart stop

Waiting for the L, Chicago
Waiting for the L, Chicago

Train platform stairs, Chicago
Train platform stairs, Chicago

This weekend we cooked Thanksgiving casseroles to freeze for a busy holiday week, then made pretzel bread and cheddar-beer fondue soup (recipe to come). Sunday we were at church all morning, attended a meet & greet with our new pastor and had a long worship band rehearsal, then created a slide show of charities we helped for the Thrivent Chapter Board annual dinner that night, and came home late.

I'm not complaining a bit. I love this kind of busy - the kind with lots of good food and great company and a long rainy Saturday cooking companionably with my love. Actually, we're lucky this recipe was written this weekend at all. I bet the Milanese would love the risotto Joe cooked Friday night, though I still don't know why they prepare it this way.


3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup onion, minced
6 cups hot chicken broth
2 cups Arborio rice
1/4 tsp ground saffron
1 cup grated Romano cheese
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped


Melt together the butter and oil at medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the onion and salt and saute until tender. Add the rice and saute until white and covered with oil, about 2 minutes.

Slowly stir in 1/2 cup broth, allowing the rice to start to absorb the broth and thicken it. Stir in the saffron.
Continue adding the hot broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until the broth thickens before adding the next 1/2 cup. After 5 1/2 cups of broth are absorbed by the rice, taste for tenderness. If rice is still hard, continue stirring and add the rest of the liquid. The risotto is ready when the grains are tender on the outside with a small firm al dente core.

stirring broth into risotto

When the rice is ready, stir in half the Romano cheese and the parsley. Divide into 6 portions and top with the remaining cheese.

Serves 6.


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