Risotto Alla Milanese
This bright yellow, saffron-infused rice is the traditional Italian partner for osso buco. It’s one of the few instances when risotto should be served as a side dish rather than a primo, or first course. Make it when the osso buco reheats.
Technically, risotto needs to be stirred constantly, but I find I can get other things done nearby in the kitchen while it’s cooking, so let’s just say it needs to be stirred every few minutes.
Total Timeunder 30 minutes
OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Cooking for a date, Formal Dinner Party
Recipe Courseside dish
Dietary Considerationside dish
Taste and Texturebuttery, cheesy, creamy, rich
- About 6 cups Golden Chicken Stock
- 1 teaspoon saffron threads, loosely packed
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a large saucepan and reduce to a simmer (I like to keep the stock on the burner directly behind the one on which I’m making the risotto). Remove ½ cup of chicken stock, crumble in the saffron, and keep warm.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter and the oil in a medium shallow saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook until translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the rice and stir well to coat the rice evenly. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the rice turns translucent on the edges, about 4 minutes.
Add the wine and stir until it is absorbed. Add the saffron-infused stock, and cook, stirring, until it has been nearly absorbed. Add the stock one ladle (about ½ cup) at a time, stirring continuously. Continue to add stock as each addition is absorbed. The idea is to keep the rice thinly veiled with stock at all times. It should evenly and gently bubble, not boil furiously. It should never be completely dry, and it should not be flooded with stock, either. It will absorb liquid more quickly toward the beginning of the cooking time than at the end.
You may not need to add all of the stock. The risotto should be a creamy porridge, and each grain should have a slight bite to it in the center, but not a crunch. Before adding the final ladle, turn the heat off. It will continue to thicken as you finish it and get it to the table, so it should be a touch looser than you want it when you take it off the heat. Total cooking time is between 18 and 20 minutes. Add the cheese and the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
2005 Susan Spungen