As I said in my post A special birthday with… an award, Risotto alla milanese is the first dish I have ever cooked all by myself. I remember watching my mother continuously stirring the rice in the pot as a small child and waiting impatiently for it to be ready. It surely was my favourite dish! That’s why it was the first thing I attempted to cook… It is a very simple dish that is made special by the use of saffron, which gives it its characteristic and intense yellow colour. Traditionally butter and/or bone marrow were used to cook the onion, but I substitute them with extra virgin olive oil, to cut down on the fat content. It can be served as a main dish or as a side for ossobuco alla milanese.
Ingredients for 4 persons:
350 gms rice (carnaroli or vialone nano)
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 glass white wine
1 l stock (preferably beef stock, but it can be substituted with chicken or vegetable stock)
1/2 tsp saffron threads or 1 sachet of saffron powder
Salt to taste
30 gms butter
50 gms Parmigiano Reggiano
Pepper and more Parmigiano Reggiano to serve
Start by putting the stock in a pot and heat it on the fire. The stock has to be hot all the time while you are cooking risotto, so that the rice temperature does not drop when you add the stock to it.
Put the finely chopped onion and the extra virgin olive oil in a pot and let it cook on a slow fire, until the onion becomes soft and transparent.
Add the rice, mix well and let it cook for 1 or 2 minutes, until it becomes translucent.
Now pour in the white wine and let the alcohol burn off by cooking on a high flame.
Then add enough stock to cover the rice and turn the fire to medium-low.
Keep cooking, occasionally stirring the rice and adding stock little by little, until the rice is cooked. It is going to take approximately 18 to 20 minutes depending on the rice you are using.
Approximately 5 minutes before the risotto is ready, add the saffron and keep cooking.
When the rice is ready, put the fire off and add the butter and Parmigiano Reggiano to it.
Mix very well, until it becomes creamy. Make sure that your risotto is moist (or, as we say, all’onda – which literally means wavy) and not sticky, you can do that by adding 1 or 2 extra tbsp of stock if needed. Check for salt and season to your liking.
Serve with some more grated Parmigiano Reggiano and a sprinkle of freshly ground pepper on the top.
It can be eaten as a main dish or as a side to ossobuco alla milanese steaks.
NOTE: Whenever you cook risotto, do not wash the rice before cooking. The starch is needed for the risotto to become creamy.