Risotto is one of the staples of northern Italian cooking, nowhere more so than in Lombardy. Risotto alla milanese is the dish that perhaps best typifies the cooking of Milan, the capital of Lombardy region and the economic and financial capital of Italy.
This risotto follows the classic method for making risotto, which we have gone over before, but it has two defining ingredients that give it its special flavor and character. As many of you will already know, it is flavored with saffron—which gives it a beautiful gold color—but perhaps fewer people know that in a true risotto alla milanese, the soffritto must include beef marrow. The marrow lends a beefy background flavor to the dish, as well as a subtle richness and unctuousness.
This is the classic, creamy, flavorful risotto that goes with almost any meal, and can be served with a salad side as an entree. It does require time and patience as fairly constant stirring is the secret to success. The saffron is key to its comfort-food flavor and inviting color. And, even though serving it fresh is recommended, it’s delicious reheated later or the next day, as well. Add crab or chicken for additional interest and nutrition. One more tip: use arborio.
- 400 g Risotto Rice (Arborio Rice)
- 1 Medium Onion
- 4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 40 g Parmesan Cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano)
- Salt to taste
- 1 liter Warm Chicken Stock (1 liter of water + 2 stock cubes)
- Saffron (for the yellow color)
- 30 g Unsalted Butter
Heat up 4 table spoons of olive oil in a medium – large sauce pan. Add finely chopped onion and sweat for about 5 minutes or until the onion gets almost transparent color.
Add the rice and toast for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
Reduce the heat to medium. Season with salt. Now add the stock (about a glass at a time), stir frequently so the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom. Once the stock has been absorbed into the rice, add more stock (stir continuously) and repeat for a further 20 – 25 minutes (until the rice is cooked – but not overcooked).
Halfway through the process add saffron to the rice and stir to get nice yellow color (Start with a small amount of saffron, if you prefer a darker shade of yellow, add some more).
Minutes before serving add butter and grated Parmesan cheese. Mix well.
Serve hot with some more Parmesan cheese