This Milanese Risotto (Risotto alla Milanese) is the king of culinary tradition of the city of Milan, together with Veal Milanese (Cotoletta alla Milanese).
It’s a very old recipe, probably more than 400 years old. The tale tell that while an artist was preparing the dye to colour the window glass of the cathedral (Il Duomo di Milano), his apprentice, by accident, poured some saffron powder into the near by pan of rice.
Saffron is an ancient spice, known since the time of the Egyptians. In the beginning it was used only to dye the fabrics and to make perfumes and ointments but once its amazing culinary properties were discovered, it became an exquisite ingredient to prepare tasty dishes, with golden nuances like saffron risotto (risotto allo zafferano) .
This first course, in its essentiality, enhances the aromatic qualities of saffron at its best but not only, thanks to the strong coloring power, the rice grains are embellished with a pleasant and captivating gold color which makes this dish so special. A little magic that combined with the smooth touch of the creaming, a must in the preparation of risottos, will give you a risotto with a unique and unmistakable taste.
Chop the onion very finely, so that it can be dissolved in cooking and not be perceived while you will taste the risotto, let it dry in a very sweet fire pan for about 5 minutes with the marrow and 20 grams of butter.
Add the rice and toast it on medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring, so the grains will seal and keep cooking well.
Wet the rice with white wine and let it evaporate.
At the beginning pour the broth until the rice is covered and let it evaporate, when dried pour the remaining liquid a little at a time, stirring occasionally. Cook the rice for about 16/20 minutes, according to the chosen rice. Halfway through cooking, add saffron. Salt if necessary.
Remove the pan from the heat, add the remaining cold butter and the cheese; stir to make it soft and creamy. Let it rest a little with a lid before serving.
Keep the saffron risotto, sealed in an airtight container and refrigerated, for a maximum of two days. Freezing is not recommended.
The wine and the broth that you will add to the rice must be the first at room temperature, the second always boiling, so as not to slow down the cooking. Saffron risotto lends itself to being paired with numerous dishes: in addition to the typical combination with traditional Milanese “ossibuchi” (sliced veal shank), it is also excellent with mushrooms, generally porcini, sausages but also scampi and other seafood.
You can replace the meat broth with the vegetable broth for a more delicate flavor.