Wednesday, March 2, 2016


In my many years of making risotto, this is my favorite. True risotto alla Milanese should contain beef marrow, but I prefer a slice of pancetta for flavoring. This dish is more accurately called risotto allo zafferano with the addition of saffron (zafferano means saffron in Italian). You can definitely leave out the saffron and pancetta, but they give this risotto such a rich flavor. The addition of lemon juice at the end adds a layer of freshness.

4 cups (1 litre) chicken stock
2 t (10 ml) saffron threads, optional
2 T (30 ml) extra-light olive oil or grape seed oil
1 thin slice pancetta, optional
2 medium shallots, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 ½ cups (375 ml) Arborio rice
½ cup (125 ml) dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 T (60 ml) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
½ cup (125 ml) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 T (15 ml) fresh lemon juice

Pour the chicken stock in a saucepan along with the saffron threads (if using) and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and keep hot at a very low temperature on the stove.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add the oil.
Add the pancetta and sauté for 5 minutes, remove and discard it.
Add shallots and sauté for 5 minutes, until translucent.
Add garlic and sauté another minute.
Add rice and sauté another 2 minutes, while stirring.
Add wine and cook while stirring until wine is absorbed, about 3 minutes.

Reduce heat to low and add hot chicken stock (one ladle at a time), stirring with a wooden spoon until liquid is absorbed. Keep doing this until the rise is tender but firm (al dente) and creamy, and the stock is all used up; this takes about 25 minutes over low heat.

Risotto should be a little bit soupy. If you find it too dry, you can add ½ cup (125 ml) of water near the end of the cooking process.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Stir in the butter, Parmigiano cheese, and lemon juice.

Serve immediately.

Serves 4

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