Sunday, June 25, 2006

Risotto alla Milanese – Saffron, Yellow always Milan

Risotto alla Milanese is known by several names, whether it be Risotto Giallo or yellow rice, Risotto allo Zafferano or the traditional risotto alla Milanese it is a basic dish for any northern Italian chef. Patience, still only 30 minutes, and quality ingredients are the keys to this marvelous food. It can be a first plate, a compliment to Osso Buco, or an entrée.

Use only Arborio Rice, fresh grated Parmesan Cheese, and quality Saffron. Some companies will use parts of the flower that have no flavor or color to increase their profitability. Use only Italian or Spanish Saffron. The Italian will most often be in a powder. One small package is sufficient for 500 grams of rice. The Spanish form is usually in a string. Grind this string Saffron in a mortar reducing it to a powder otherwise it will be difficult to dissolve the Saffron. Do not cook the Saffron, add the Saffron at the end of cooking when the risotto is ready.

Quantities are important. If the Risotto is a compliment or a first plate you should start with 70-80 grams of Arborio Rice. If it is an entrée increase the amount to 100-120 grams. A northern Italian Massaia can measure by hand. 80 grams is the amount of three handfuls, 100-120 grams is four handfuls. Always place the rice on a plate and quickly move the grains around. Occasionally there will be small hard grains or pebbles in the rice, a quick check can save your teeth.

Ingredients for 4 people

¾ lb (350 gr.) Arborio rice
¾ stick (80 gr.) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon (15 gr.) unsalted butter
1 glass dry white wine
1 ¼ quart (1.5 liters) of hot chicken broth (I suggest you make the broth with bullion cubes, the store bought cans are usually rather salty)
¼ lb (120 gr.) finely grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese
1 medium onion diced
1 package Saffron


Chop the onion to a small dice.

Place the broth in a pot and heat over medium high heat. Once it comes to a boil reduce heat to maintain a simmer.

Place the butter and onion in a medium sized heavy pot on medium heat. Continue to sauté the onion until translucent. Turn on the timer to 20 minutes. Add the rice to the hot pot and stir with a wooden spoon. Continue to stir for about two minutes until the rice is completely coated. Sprinkle the wine directly into the rice. It will steam. Continue stirring the rice until the wine has almost evaporated.

Add one ladle of broth (about ¾ cup). Continue stirring the rice at intervals of every 15-30 seconds. As the broth is consumed add another ladle.

Continue until the timer goes off. Again it takes 27 minutes from start to finish. Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the Saffron, Parmesan cheese and the nut of butter. This is called the mantecatura. Let sit for 2 minutes and serve hot! The serving hot part is very important.


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Blogger a.c.t said...

Hmmm delicious. I like to put peas in mine.

8:58 AM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

ACT - you know your Italian food! We also add peas and usually sausage.

9:38 AM

Blogger ChickyBabe said...

Do you use saffron threads or powder?

4:58 PM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

ChickyBabe - The powder is difficult to find in the US so I bring back 30 packets each time I go.

The powder is more uniform and gives a better result. If you use the threads, buy a small mortar and grind them into a powder before using. Many people try to dissolve the threads in water but this takes awhile.

I am impressed with the tremendous knowledge you and others that stop in have about Italian cooking. My compliments and admiration!

5:08 PM


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