Risotto Milanese

image bone marrow

Image Bone marrow

italian risotto milanese saffron

Risotto Milanese

Risotto Milanese

How to make authentic risotto Milanese

About risotto alla milanese there are a lot of legends and stories. When I was working as a tour guide in Italy I liked to tell that it was an accidental fall of color prepared with saffron in to the meal of an artist during the staining of decorated glass for the windows of the cathedral of Milan, that started the dish back in the 16th century. If you are curious just google legend of risotto milanese and you will get lots of similar funny stories. Of course my explanation went further as saffron became important for cooking in medieval times already, as spices were often used to cover the bad preservation of ingredients and pepper was not always arriving to Italy due to the many wars of that time. We speak of normal pepper as chili pepper arrived with the discovery of America. Trading the spices was one of the reasons of the richness of the venetian republic , and the cultivation of saffron was very important for the economy of cities like San Gimignano in Tuscany. What the legend explains well is the importance of the saffron spice in the past, as it was used in food and coloring, not only for painting but also very important for the Tuscan textile production. This is also why there are a lot of forgotten recipes with saffron, and I will write more of them in the future.

Here is a link if you want to know more about saffron and a book I recommend.

Beside the legend there are documents that prove that rice with saffron was eaten before.

In any case there is something that will make your risotto Milanese unique, it is the use of bone marrow as they do in Milan, already mentioned in the Artusi book. The Artusi book gives us three recipes, and I will give you mine as I was eating it in Milan.

Ingredients for two: 5 oz of rice or approximately one cup and a half, one ounce of butter, a third of an onion chopped, a spoon of white wine, two cups of meat broth, half a cup of parmesan cheese or more if you like. Don't forget that you need a bone about a � pound from which to extract the marrow. I found it at the supermarket frozen, or you can ask your butcher for it. Salt and pepper.

For the saffron the best thing to do is to add two tee spoons to the broth. At the end taste the risotto and look at the color. It is good when it has this beautiful yellow color, so if not just add more.


Fry the onion with the butter and the marrow, which you took out of the bone with a knife. Then add the rice with the wine and start stirring adding the broth slowly during the cooking. Remember for a good risotto you always have to stir with a wooden spoon.

When after about twenty minutes the rice is ready you add the parmesan and if you like more butter and send to the table with more parmesan cheese on the side.

The risotto I made was good but not perfect as I used American saffron. The color as you can see in the photo tends more to the red. This is what i used in Italy .

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