Risotto Milanese - Classic Preparation With Saffron




Introduction: Risotto Milanese - Classic Preparation With Saffron

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Saffron Risotto or Risotto Milanese is the quintessential classic risotto. Golden onion, chicken stock, a touch of wine and Saffron make for this classic dish that is naturally gluten free. Years ago my sister in law was diagnosed with Celiac's disease and was forced into a gluten free diet. This was an option I showed her, and she is now better then I at making it I'm sure. It is simple and quick, from start to finish about 25 minutes. Risotto is very flexible too, as long as you stick to basic ratios, anything goes. 1 cup of Arborio to 4 cups of stock in addition to your cup of wine. Don't want to use wine? no problem, use more chicken stock. I have substituted dealcoholized wine or even apple juice before. Have no Parmesan? Try some aged cheddar, you will not be sorry! If you want to add vegetables, saute them first, but only fold in at the end. If you add it in the beginning, they will be mushy and gross by the end.

. On the issue of rice, it must be a short grained Italian variety like Arborio, but if you can get it, use Carnaroli - it is the bomb! Results in the creamiest dreamiest risotto possible!

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Step 1: Ingredients

  • 4 cups of Simmering chicken stock - gluten free - Store bought is ok, but tricky to find gluten free sometimes. Homemade is king!
  • 1 large onion - If you can get a nice vidalia or Walla Walla sweet onion, all the better.
  • Good quality sea salt
  • 1 cup of Arborio rice, Use Carnaroli rice if you can find it for the CREAMIEST risotto ever
  • 1 large pinch of saffron
  • 1 cup of dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons of salted butter
  • 3/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 teaspoon of freshly grated black pepper - NOT white pepper, ew...
    • A heavy bottomed pot that can hold at least 2 liters. A large pan has to much surface evaporation, has to be a pot or the stock will disappear as steam.
      • You want the rice and stock to fuse!

Step 2: Dice Your Onion and Sweat It Out!

  1. Dice up your onion on the smallish side, Somewhere between a chop and a mince. About 1/3 of an inch square.
  2. Add about 2 tablespoons of good quality olive oil to your thick bottomed pot and toss in your onions and about a teaspoon of salt. The salt with the heat will break down the cell walls of the onions allowing them to weep out or sweat their sugars.
  3. Heat over medium heat, gently stirring. You want them to turn golden, not brown; as brown equals bitter onions
  4. After about 5 minutes, your onions shall be glorious, golden and sweet.

Step 3: Carmelize and Deglaze

  1. Now, add your saffron, butter and rice
  2. Swirl them about to coat the rice in the onion and buttery oil for a couple seconds.
  3. Now de-glaze the pot by adding your cup of white wine
  4. Run a spoon on the bottom and edge of the pot to release all those caramelized sugars from sauteing the onions.
  5. Cook over medium-high heat for several minutes until the wine absorbs into the rice. Cooking too low of heat, causes the rice to cook in a mushy icky way, to high of heat and you seal off the rices exterior kernel, not allowing the starches to flow - Medium high with constant gentle stirring is the way to go.
  6. You will know when most of the liquid is absorbed by the way the spoon leaves a clean spot on the bottom of the pot and takes a while to fill back in.
  7. Your other pot of chicken stock is simmering on the back of the stove right now, right?

Step 4: Simmer Down!

Of course you still have your pot of chicken stock gently simmering on the back stove right? Of course you do...

  1. Ladle from your hot chicken stock, 1/2 cup of stock at a time into your rice mixture. Your rice is still over medium high heat, so about every 3 minutes of gentle stirring, your 1/2 cup will be absorbed.
  2. 3 minutes later, with gentle stirring, you should be ready for another 1/2 cup of stock. keep up the medium heat and gentle stirring. You want some hot "BUMP and GRIND" action of rice against rice, not bashed about with a wooden spoon!
  3. Once again,You will know when most of the liquid is absorbed by the way the spoon leaves a clean spot on the bottom of the pot and takes a while to fill back in.
  4. Repeat this process until your stock is all gone. By now the rice your be translucent, and upon visual scrutiny, each grain will have a hair line of white at its center; this is rice cooked al-dente. This is your goal, your not looking for oatmeal.
  5. Remove the pot from the hot element.

Step 5: Make It Cheesy

  1. Dump in your grated Parmesan, black pepper and gently fold it in. Try not to over mix, gently stir...
  2. Your almost done....


The big secret? let it sit covered for several minutes. That is it. By giving it a minute to steam with the Parmesan you create the optimum environment for the starches of the rice and the cheese to get acquainted. Trust me, it may seem unneeded since it only sits for several minutes but the change that happens is phenomenal. Its the difference between good risotto and GREAT risotto! Some add a splash of 35% cream at the end, really though if you let it sit, you don't need it.

Step 7: No NOm NOM

So good, it stands for itself as the main course!

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    6 Discussions


    Tip 1 year ago

    saffron lost flavor when heated, put it in a small cup of middle temp water or broth and add it before the " top secret" step


    1 year ago

    This is the first time I see butter in risotto, specially salted butter, which isn't an italian product at all, Italians use olive oil. Regarding saffron, it doesn't like heat, the best is to dilute it in lukewarm water and add it almost at the end. But these are my opinions, and I can say your risotto looks wonderful !


    Reply 1 year ago

    italian here .
    on our tradition, there is a difference between north and south , in the north they use butter ( normal,not salted, spiced or anything, simple plain butter ) , in the south olive oil is used, since milano is in the north try to guess.. butter all the way !


    Reply 1 year ago

    You got me with the butter! I'm a victim of being trained in french cooking, love my butter, especially salted butter - it mellows the onion as I wasn't going for caramelized onions. The saffron I have always been taught to add at the beginning as with with all dried herbs to develop flavour, and in the case of saffron, it help build the color. But, I will try next time to add it at the end and see the difference. Never to young to learn a new method :)

    Penolopy Bulnick
    Penolopy Bulnick

    1 year ago

    Such a creamy, delicious looking dish! I really need to try to make risotto some time :)


    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you, it is ultra creamy - I only wish my camera used at the time would have picked up the beautiful orange saffron color of the risotto. Pesky energy efficient lighting makes for bad camera lighting.