Risotto alla milanese

Hello my dear readers,

Today is the perfect day for another easy but super delicious recipe. Today let’s do the risotto alla Milanese or saffron risotto.

During the events experienced or told in history, saffron has had the most disparate uses. In the beginning it was used only as a dye to dye the silks destined for the upper classes or to paint; in fact, during the Renaissance, they used to mix it with the powders of the frescoes to give the colors a particular luminance spread, especially in Italy, but later was used for a wide variety of things, as a medicinal substance, in cosmetic industry and in cooking, as we have seen in my previous post of Discovering our food: saffron.

Saffron in a bowl_Popsicle Society_high res

When saffron became part of the domestic economy, it became a useful and pleasant ingredient for food and drinks by adapting its bright golden color and its exceptional fragrance, to sweets, pastas, cheeses and rice from which was borne one of the most well-known Italian recipes: risotto alla Milanese or Saffron Risotto.

How was borne risotto alla Milanese?

In Milan towards the end of the 1300s, work was underway to build the Duomo. Valerio of Flanders, a Belgian master glassmaker, commissioned for the realization of some windows, had brought the best of his disciples to Milan together with a young man of strong skill, nicknamed “Saffron” for the custom to add a pinch of saffron in the preparation of mix of colors, so that they are brighter.

During the rest of the works, the Maestro continually used to mock him that sooner or later he would end up putting saffron into rice too. The young man, after years of teasing, on the day of the celebrations arranged for the wedding of the Maestro’s daughter, decided to devise a joke and with the complicity of the cook, coloring the risotto prepared for the wedding dinner with the yellow powder. At the sight of the dish, the Maestro’s amazement was great but in order not to fall into ridicule, he immediately came forward to savor the unusual yellow rice. One after the other, all the diners followed suit and in the blink of an eye they consumed the eccentric course entirely and in good taste.

To “Saffron” the mockery did not do very well, but unknowingly he gave birth to one of the most extraordinary Italian gastronomic recipes: risotto alla Milanese.

This first course, in its essentiality, best enhances the aromatic qualities of saffron but not only, thanks to the strong coloring power, the rice grains are embellished with a pleasant and captivating gold color that makes this dish so special.

A little magic that combined with the creamy touch of cheese and butter, inevitable in the preparation of risotto, will give you a risotto with a unique and unmistakable taste.

Now let’s see what we need and how to do it.

Risotto alla milanese_Popsicle Society

Ingredients for making risotto alla Milanese, quantities for 2 generous servings:

  • 1 teaspoon saffron pistils (0.4 g)
  • 200 g Carnaroli or arborio rice
  • 50 g butter
  • 1 shallot
  • 35 g grated Grana Padano DOP
  • 50 g white wine at room temperature
  • 2-3 tablespoon of water to infuse the saffron pistils
  • 800 ml vegetable broth warm
  • 1 pinch of salt

How to do risotto alla Milanese:

To make the saffron risotto, first put the pistils of saffron in a small bowl, pour enough water over them to completely cover the pistils, stir and leave to infuse a couple of hours, in this way the pistils will release all their colour.

Popsicle Society_risotto alla milanese_saffron

Then prepare the vegetable broth. I’m using the organic vegetable stock cubes (1 stock cube for 500 ml boiling water), for lack of space in the freezer, but you may also prepare the broth at home in advance and freeze it. You may use whatever vegetables you have at home: carrots, onions, celery, parsnip, you season with salt and boil them. Once ready, you let it cool, take out the veggies and put the broth in ice tray or food storage container and freeze it. In this way you will have it ready anytime you need it, just need to boil it, the quantity that you need.

Once the broth is ready, peel and finely chop the shallot so that it can melt during cooking and not be perceived while tasting the risotto.

In a large saucepan, put half of the butter, melt it over low heat, then add the chopped shallot and let it simmer for 3-4 minutes adding a little bit of broth so as not to dry the sautΓ©: the shallot must be very transparent and soft.

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Once the shallot is stewed, pour the rice and toast it for 3-4 minutes, so the beans will seal and cook well. Pour in the white wine and let it evaporate completely. At this point add a half of the water with the saffron pistils that you have infused and then proceed with the cooking for about 18-20 minutes, adding the broth one ladle at a time, as needed, as it will be absorbed by the rice, the beans must always be covered with broth.

Five minutes before the end of cooking, pour the other half of the water with the saffron pistils that you have infused, mix to flavour and dye the risotto with a nice gold colour. Once the rice is cooked, make sure is al dente and not too soft, turn off the heat, add salt if needed, stir in the grated cheese and the remaining butter and mix well or until the risotto will become creamy.

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At this point the risotto alla Milanese or saffron risotto is ready.

Garnish the dish with a few more pistils of saffron if you want and serve it hot.

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You may store the saffron risotto, closed in an airtight container and placed in the refrigerator, for a maximum of two days but I don’t recommend freezing it.

Or like in my case, you eat it immediately, even if outside are 27 degrees Celsius.

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Hints for making a perfect risotto alla MilaneseΒ 

The wine and broth that you add to the rice must be the first at room temperature, the second always boiling, in order not to slow down the cooking.

You may serve the saffron risotto as a first dish on its own, or also combined with numerous dishes such as Milanese traditional shanks (osso bucco), or it is also excellent with mushrooms, in particular porcini mushrooms, sausages but also scampi and other seafood.

Risotto alla Milanese

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Easy, comfy and delicious saffron risotto.

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon saffron pistils
  • 200 g Carnaroli or arborio rice
  • 50 g butter
  • 1 shallot
  • 35 g grated Grana Padano DOP
  • 50 g white wine at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoon of water
  • 800 ml vegetable broth warm
  • 1 pinch of salt

Directions

  1. To make the saffron risotto, first put the pistils of saffron in a small bowl, pour enough water over them to completely cover the pistils, stir and leave to infuse a couple of hours, in this way the pistils will release all their colour.
  2. Then prepare the vegetable broth. I’m using the organic vegetable stock cubes (1 stock cube for 500 ml boiling water).
  3. Once the broth is ready, peel and finely chop the shallot so that it can melt during cooking and not be perceived while tasting the risotto.
  4. In a large saucepan, put half of butter, melt it over low heat, then add the chopped shallot and let it simmer for 3-4 minutes adding a little bit of broth so as not to dry the sautΓ©: the shallot must be very transparent and soft.
  5. Once the shallot is stewed, pour the rice and toast it for 3-4 minutes, so the beans will seal and cook well. Pour in the white wine and let it evaporate completely. At this point add a half of the water with the saffron pistils that you have infused and then proceed with the cooking for about 18-20 minutes, adding the broth one ladle at a time, as needed, as it will be absorbed by the rice, the beans must always be covered with broth.
  6. Five minutes before the end of cooking, pour the other half of the water with the saffron pistils that you have infused, mix to flavour and dye the risotto with a nice gold colour. Once the rice is cooked, make sure is al dente and not too soft, turn off the heat, add salt if needed, stir in the grated cheese and the remaining butter and mix well.
  7. At this point the risotto alla Milanese or saffron risotto is ready. Garnish the dish with a few more pistils of saffron if you want and serve it hot.
  8. Enjoy πŸ˜‰Β πŸ˜‹


All photo credit: Popsicle Society done with iPhone 11

Tableware at its best_Popsicle Society shop

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Wish you all a wonderful Sunday!

Love, R

Popsicle Society_weekend

25 thoughts on “Risotto alla milanese

  1. Now I took an Italian cooking class and never heard of this! This sounds interesting……I’m a fan of Yellow Rice but I bet it’s not the same….LOL! So, what would you say that it tastes like for someone who has never tried it before? I probably wouldn’t cook it but I might try someone else’s if they knew what they were doing.
    Thanks so much for the pictures too!

  2. Che dire, il risotto alla milanese Γ¨ golosissimo e sei riuscita a dare quella meravigliosa cremositΓ , anche dalle fotoπŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹ Nemo&Nancy di NemoInCucina!!!

      1. it is and not something I would eat often but as a special dish yes. I have to add I am not a great fan of risotto. So when I had this and enjoyed it well I do not want to spoil the enjoyment of having it, by trying to cook it myself. lol

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