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The Best Saffron Risotto Recipe From Milan Has Great Flavor

The best Saffron Risotto recipe comes from Milan and is a delicious and hearty first course that you need with your next dinner of braised chicken or beef.

Best Saffron Risotto Recipe - Finished

Risotto alla Milanese Is Special

Kitchen Tools And Cookware

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What Makes The Best Saffron Risotto Recipe So Special?

This is the best recipe for Saffron Risotto, known as Risotto alla Milanese, that you can find because of a couple of key ingredients that raise the quality up a few rungs on the quality ladder. First is the rice. Carnaroli rice is the perfect choice for any recipes for risotto because it is thinner, softer and creamier than any other choice. Another feature is the addition of beef marrow. I rarely cook with beef marrow, so I was a little hesitant to add it, but you will be so glad you did because the result is luxurious and subtle. Take the time needed to make this fantastic Primo Piatto.

The History Of The Best Saffron Risotto Recipe

Measuring Cups and Spoons

Don’t buy cheap plastic cups and spoons because this stainless steel set will last a really long time!

Milanese Risotto is the most typical and well-known dish of Milan. It is a risotto whose main ingredients, in addition to those necessary to prepare a white risotto, are saffron, from which its characteristic yellow color derives, and ox marrow. The origins of Milanese Risotto date back to the Middle Ages and are similar to other dishes in Arab and Jewish cuisine. In the Middle Ages in Italy, this dish was known as Rice with Saffron (Riso Col Zafran).

Best Saffron Risotto Recipe - Raw Rice

Buy Good Rice For This Dish

Mixing Bowls

Only recently have a realized how great mixing bowls with lids are and these stainless steel beauties are amazing!

Milanese cuisine is strongly characterized by the elements of the land surrounding it with a wide diffusion of risottos that come from the rice cultivation of the lower Milanese area. These rice dishes combine with the typical meat dishes, like Osso Buco, that come from the breeding of cattle and pigs common in this area.

Why Is It Called Risotto Milanese?

Saffron Risotto, or Risotto alla Milanese has roots that go back to the Middle Ages. It came in and out of favor over the years, but the recipe reappeared in a cookbook in 1829 when the famous Milanese dish was defined as “yellow Milanese risotto”, the same name by which it is still known today.


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Saffron Risotto Recipe Ingredient Recommendations

Mesh Strainers

This set of strainers are the right tool for the job and easily cleaned later.

What Goes With Risotto alla Milanese

If you want to keep your dinner plans traditional and regional, Risotto alla Milanese should be served as a side dish for Osso Buco, which is another typical Milanese dish. Other dishes that pair well include roasted meats like chicken, turkey or pork, as well as with roasted vegetables and salads. I might avoid fish dishes because they would be overpowered by the intensely flavored Risotto.

The Difference Between Carnaroli and Arborio Rice

The most important qualities of a good risotto rice are: high starch content and being absorbent. Arborio rice is a more common favorite for risotto making, but I wonder if this is driven by availability. It is longer and wider, but not as starchy as Carnaroli, which is higher in starch content and creates a more creamy consistency when cooked correctly. Carnaroli rice is grown across northern Italy and is often called The King of Rices!

Best Saffron Risotto Recipe - Carnaroli

Make Sure You Get Carnaroli Rice

What Is Beef Bone Marrow?

When I first made this recipe, I was stopped in my tracks when it called for Midollo di bue, which quickly translated to Ox Marrow. Unfortunately for me, I don’t usually buy ox, so I had no idea where I should buy some of its marrow. I then learned that beef marrow is also used, but still, I never used this as an ingredient so I needed to find it in a grocery store.

Bone marrow, as you may know, is the soft, fatty middle of the bone, which some people eat on its own. I only recently tried spreading the marrow from my Osso Buco on some bread, but I don’t think it is for me.

Best Saffron Risotto Recipe - Beef Marrow

Secret Ingredient – Beef Marrow

When I started looking for beef bone marrow, I was only able to find the frozen bones in our grocery store that we had previously served to our dog to chew on, so this didn’t seem right. I ended up at a grocery store that serves the Latino community, and they had a small package of beef bones, not frozen, with their marrow intact, so I bought them there.

What Are Saffron Strands Called?

One of the important ingredients in Risotto alla Milanese is the Saffron. It gives the dish a subtle additional flavor, but more importantly it is the reason for the pleasing yellow color of the Risotto. If you were as unaware as me, Saffron is a spice that is cultivated from the Crocus plant and the thread-like stems that are used are called the Saffron Pistils.

How Can You Use A Glass For Measurement?

When I first read an Italian cookbook that used a glass (bicchiere) as a unit of measurement, I was a little confused. While it is generally agreed that a glass, when used in cooking, is approximately 8 ounces (250 ml), what I found interesting was where this came from. I was told by an Italian teacher a number of years ago that glass jars of Nutella, a favorite in Italy, were reused as drinking glasses when they were empty. These Nutella jars/glasses are a little smaller at 6.5 ounces (200 ml), but I love how this story combines a ubiquitous love of Nutella, the thriftiness of reusing the glasses with it being so commonplace that it can be used to measure your ingredients.

The Best Saffron Risotto Recipe

  • Difficulty: Medium

  • Prep Time: 15 mins

  • Cook: 20 mins

  • Servings: 4

Best Saffron Risotto Recipe - Milan

The Marrow Makes This Dish Special

Ingredients For Saffron Risotto

  • 12 ounces (350 grams) of Carnaroli rice

  • 3 ounces (70 grams) of butter

  • 2 ounces (50 grams) of grated Grano Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

  • 2 ounces (50 grams) of beef marrow

  • 1 medium white onion

  • 1 glass (8 ounces) of dry white wine

  • 1 quart (1 liter) of beef broth

  • Saffron pistils to taste

Saffron Risotto Cooking Instructions

  1. Dice the onion.
  2. Add the diced onions, butter and marrow to a saucepan and sauté it over a low heat.
  3. Add the rice to the pan and let it toast until the rice becomes nearly transparent.
  4. Pour in half a glass of the wine and continue stirring the pan until it evaporates completely.
  5. Pour a ladle of boiling stock into the pan to cook the rice, adding more stock one ladle at a time until it is completely absorbed by the rice. Stir often.
  6. When the rice is almost cooked, dissolve the saffron in some broth and add it to the rice.
  7. Keep stirring the rice so that it doesn’t burn or get clumpy and turn off the stove.
  8. Add the butter and part of the grated cheese. Mix well.
  9. Cover with a dish towel or lid and let it rest for 5 minutes, then add the remaining cheese.
  10. The risotto is now ready for serving.

Santoku Knife

The Santoku style knife is my favorite when I’m cooking and Victorinox makes a great one!

Serving Suggestions

Add the risotto to a serving dish and, for presentation, garnish it with a few pistils of saffron and serve immediately.

Previous Recipes That Might Interest You

If you enjoyed the best Saffron Risotto recipe, here are some of my previous recipes that you might want to try:

Best Saffron Risotto Recipe - Served

Risotto Milanese

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