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Risotto alla Milanese (Risotto with Parmesan & Saffron)

Scott Phillips

Servings: 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

Nutritional Information

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


  • 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.

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


Rate or Review

Reviews (6 reviews)

  • Darren_Stevens | 02/15/2021

    Excellent and authentic tasting. Bravo!

    I always use Imagine low-sodium chicken stock (boxed not canned) and freshly grated Parm Regg. The saffron is just the right amount and overall, the recipe came out exactly as hoped. New standard for us. Used it to accompany veal chops Milanese and will def try it with some duck confit and cepes next.

  • CookEmonster | 06/12/2018

    My family loved the risotto, but I detoured quite a bit from the recipe; I only used about half the amount of rice, based on a tried and true recipe I found years ago. I use a shallot instead of an onion. Better overall flavor. I also use salted butter as it prevents me from over-salting it on my own. I also put the saffron in with the stock as it warmed on the stove. This gave the stock a beautiful color and helped evenly distribute the flavor of the saffron.

    (As an aside, never use canned stock for risotto. You can taste the metal. There are far better stocks or broths that come boxed. Also, warm your stock so you don't continually cool the rice while cooking.)

    Overall, great flavor and it is the new standard in our home. I would love to try this with a hard goat cheese instead of the Parmesan sometime. I served this was rosemary chicken, which blended nicely with the rice.

  • murray27 | 10/15/2016

    Excellent! I will add this to my repetoire.

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