Monday, November 2, 2015

Risotto Milanese

When my sister and I were in Italy earlier this year, we enjoyed tons of amazing food. I've been working on recreating some of our favorite dishes at home, like spaghetti alla vongole, and it's been fun and delicious. However, I've been saving this particular dish for cool weather, since slaving over a hot stove, continuously stirring a steaming pot is not my idea of summertime fun.

As you can tell by the title, I'm making risotto Milanese. We ate at El Brellin and had some of the best risotto and osso buco ever. Based on my memory of the flavors, I did my best to recreate the meal. The arborio rice, saffron, and parmesan I'm using in this recipe were actually bought in Milan (at Eataly) so it feels a little more authentic.

And tomorrow, I'm sharing osso buco so come back for that if you're looking for the perfect match to this risotto.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
3½ cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon saffron (loosely packed)
3 tablespoons butter
½ onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup arborio rice
½ cup white wine
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup grated parmesan

Start by dicing the onions and mincing the garlic. If you're super strict about texture, you can grate the onions. I happen to like little pieces of onion.
Also, grate some parmesan cheese.
Pour the chicken stock into a saucepan and sprinkle in the saffron. Heat over low and simmer the stock for 5 minutes. The saffron will start steeping in the stock and turn it a glorious, rich, golden yellow.
Grab another heavy bottomed pot and pop it on the hob over medium heat. Add in the butter and once it melts, add in the garlic and onions. Cook until softened.

Then, add in the arborio rice and stir so that every grain of rice gets coated in fat. Gently toast the rice for a few minutes. This is a crucial step! It's like a bit of insurance that makes sure the risotto cooks properly and doesn't go all mushy. Once the rice is lightly toasted, pour in the white wine and stir.
Season with a little salt and pepper and then add in a ladle or two of the saffron stock. Basically, you want to add about ½ cup of stock at a time. Never let the stock come up above the rice completely; you always want to see a few grains poking out of the top. After the stock has been added, stir the rice intermittently. The stirring will promote creaminess, as the starches are drawn out of the rice grains.
When most of the stock has been absorbed, add in more stock and continue with the routine stirring. This process should continue on and on until all of the stock has been incorporated and the rice is cooked perfectly al dente. Al dente rice is when it's just barely cooked through and each grain maintains its shape and dignity.
The last ladle of stock should only be allowed to halfway absorb into the rice. The goal is to have some liquid surrounding the risotto. The cooking liquid is full of starch and ultra creamy and adds to the texture of the risotto. If you let the risotto get too dry, it will just become pilaf and that is not the goal here.
To add to the creaminess and add a little salty bite, stir in the cheese just before serving.
Scoop a generous spoonful of risotto onto each serving dish. You'll know you did it right if the risotto slowly spreads out as if it's thick lava. The goal here is for the risotto to act like a creamy mass as a whole. The rice shouldn't be clumpy, the liquid surrounding the rice shouldn't be gluey, and there shouldn't be any liquid dribbling out from the rice.
This risotto is a superstar. I love it so much and if saffron weren't so expensive, I would make this all the time. Saffron lends a subtle sweetness and floral flavor to the risotto.

The risotto itself is incredibly creamy (despite containing zero cream) and though it could stand on its own as a bold dish, it's also quite "friendly," meaning it lends itself to being paired with other dishes quite harmoniously; in particular, it is incredible with osso buco. Like I mentioned above (and as you can see from the photo below), I made osso buco and I'll be sharing that recipe tomorrow so come back for that!
Here's the recipe page:

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