No matter where you are in the world, it’s likely there’s a native rice dish with a golden hue. In Latin America it’s known as Arroz Amarillo, in India as Kesar Chawal, and Indonesia as Nasi Kuning.
Whether these all originated in one place or were developed independently is fodder for debate, but gold has long been a color symbolizing prosperity in many cultures (for obvious reasons). That’s why it’s not surprising that people figured out rice could be colored gold by adding ingredients such as saffron, turmeric or annatto.
Today I’m sharing an ochre-hued Milanese style risotto, which has the flavor to back up the intense color. It starts off like any other risotto, with shallots and rice sautéed in butter, followed by the addition of a little wine. Where it diverges, is the large quantity of saffron in the stock that gets stirred in. Although saffron is red in color, it imbues any liquid it’s steeped in with a rich golden yellow hue.
Finished off with a generous sprinkling of Parmigiano Reggiano, this Risotto alla Milanese is rich, creamy and deeply satisfying. One thing you should know is that the original is made with lard and beef stock. I make it with chicken or vegetable stock, because I usually pair it with Osso Buco, so it gets plenty of fatty beef flavor from the sauce and marrow.
Risotto alla Milanese
- 2 teaspoons saffron threads
- 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 tablespoons butter
- .71 ounces (20 grams) shallot, minced
- 1 cup short grain rice such as arborio, carnaroli or sushi rice
- 1/2 cup white wine
- .88 ounces (25 grams) Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
- Add the saffron and stock to a pot and heat over medium-low heat to maintain a gentle simmer.
- In a separate pot, heat the butter over medium high heat until melted, and then add the shallots. Fry the shallots until they are fragrant and just to starting to take some color, but do not let them brown.
- Add the rice and fry until the grains have absorbed all the oil.
- Add the wine, and cook, stirring the rice constantly until there is no liquid left.
- When the wine has evaporated start adding stock, one ladleful at a time, stirring the rice until the stock has been absorbed before adding more.
- Continue cooking, while stirring and adding stock until the rice is creamy and has reached your desired tenderness (about 16-20 minutes). You may not need all of the stock.
- Finish the risotto by stirring in the cheese.
Yield: 2-3 servings
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.