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Risotto alla Milanese (Risotto with Parmesan & Saffron)

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Serves six as a first course.

While it would be unfair to say that this is the risotto after which all others are derived—the Venetians provide plenty of competition—its lovely simplicity is hard to match. If you're uneasy about risotto, this is a good recipe to start with because it's simple and requires so few ingredients.

  • 1 medium onion, very finely chopped
  • 8 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 lb. (2 cups) arborio, vialone nano, or carnaroli rice, or other medium- or short-grain Italian rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 6 cups hot homemade or low-salt canned chicken broth; more as needed
  • 1/2 tsp. saffron threads
  • 1 cup finely grated parmesan, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a heavy-based saucepan that's large enough to hold the rice with plenty of room left over, cook the onion in 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat until it's translucent and fragrant, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the rice and cook it over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Add the wine, 2 cups of broth, and the saffron. Turn the heat to high until the broth comes to a simmer and then adjust the heat to maintain a steady simmer.

Cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed, stirring every minute or two (there's no need to stir constantly). Add another cup of broth and keep cooking, stirring, and adding broth until the rice is al dente but not raw or grainy in the middle (see tip on Stirring risotto).

When the rice is ready, stir in the cheese. Add a little more broth to give the risotto the consistency you like (from fairly tight to almost soupy). Off the heat, stir in the remaining 6 tablespoons butter. Season with salt and pepper and ladle onto heated plates or bowls.

Make Ahead Tips

If you try to make risotto ahead completely and then reheat it, it will be overcooked and mushy. Instead, you can cook it until it's about halfway done—the rice should still be rather firm inside—and then spread it out on a baking sheet to stop cooking and cool. Cover the rice and set it aside at room temperature for up to two hours. When you're ready to serve the risotto, return it to the pot and resume adding hot liquid until it's perfectly al dente, a few minutes later.

Leftovers

If you have any leftover risotto, it's delicious made into crunchy Risotto Cakes.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : per first course serving; Calories (kcal): 510; Fat (g): 20; Fat Calories (kcal): 180; Saturated Fat (g): 12; Protein (g): 13; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 6; Carbohydrates (g): 63; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1; Sodium (mg): 490; Cholesterol (mg): 50; Fiber (g): 1;

Photo: Scott Phillips

A truly delicious recipe and simple to make. Heating the broth ahead of time and keeping it at a simmer made it absorb more quickly. I added the saffron to the broth to make certain it was melded into the liquid. And the grated parmagiana added an extra layer of flavor to the Osso Bucco I served with the risotto. The end result was creamy but firm, not runny and held up well to the more liquid sauce of the Osso Bucco.

Superb! Now a mainstay in my house. I have made this recipe with Osso Bucco, short ribs, and scallops. Once you have made this a few times, the recipe is easy to remember. Homemade risotto is amazing.You can make this ahead, stop at the point where the recipe says out can stay out for 2 hours on baking sheet. Let it cool on baking sheet and then put it in an airtight container. Reheat slowly with more broth within 24 hours.

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