Saffron Risotto - Risotto alla Milanese

   Saffron Risotto

Recipe Courtesy of Chef Mama Isa

Saffron Risotto ("Risotto allo Zafferano" or "Risotto alla Milanese") is one of the most delicious Italian "primo piatto".

Do you know that to produce 1 Kg of saffron takes about 500 hours of work and 200,000 flowers? Each saffron flower makes only three pistils branches and lives longer than a day.
 Saffron flowers bloom for just 10 -11 days each year.
And it is so important to pick the saffron flowers on the day the flower opens, as by the next day it will be ruined. The harvesting takes place by hand.
 Saffron is more expensive than gold today (1 g costs about $45.50).

Saffron - originated from the wild flower Crocus cartwrightianus - actually its scientific name is Crocus Sativus.
The first fresco were compared saffron is a Minoan fresco (in Santorini island) dated 1600 - 1500 BC). Originally saffron was used as a therapeutic drug (for depression, blood purification, asthma). Abruzzo region (Italy) is Italy's most important source of saffron (since the 13th - 14th Centuries in the Middle Age). Saffron l'Aquila is a PDO (for more info click here 

PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) indicates a food or agricultural product originating in a country or region whose qualities depends on defined factors.

INGREDIENTS (serves 6 people)
480 g Italian rice (or Vialone Nano rice, or Arborio rice, or Carnaroli rice)
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
saffron in pistils: 60 saffron pistils (usually 10 saffron pistils per person), soaked in a little bit of warm stock, directions below)
1 liter of hot Chicken stock (and more hot water, if necessary)
1 glass (about 100 ml) of white wine
100 g of unsalted butter (75 g at the beginning of the preparation, and 25 g at the end)
100 g of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (aged minimum 2 years), freshly grated
Salt to taste
Back pepper to taste, freshly grounded

Soak saffron pistils, optionally crushed in a mortar, in 100 ml of 60 °C warm stock. After about 15 minutes you will have a strong aromatic yellow - red solution.

This then add to your risotto at the end, when rice is cooked (see below): please remember saffron should never cook for from the beginning, because when heated lose the aroma and flavor.

In a non-stick pan for risotto, melt the unsalted butter with onion, finely chopped, until the onion is translucent (we call this first step "soffritto").
Then add the rice and mix very well, until it begins to be translucent and transparent. In Italy we call this second step "tostatura": it will ensure uniform cooking of the grain, so it’s a fairly important step.
Make sure all the rice is nicely toasted, and then you can add a glass of wine and stir till it evaporates completely before moving to the next step.

Now the third step: add the glass of white wine.
When the wine is evaporated, continue to cook, adding a ladleful of hot chicken stock to the rice in small quantities, stirring constantly between the addictions and until the stock has all been absorbed and the rice has become sticky.
Recipe of the day - Saffron Risotto (Risotto allo Zafferano) with Mama Isa
A good risotto is only with a good stock from scratch!

Continue this step, adding a ladleful of hot chicken stock at a time (if you don't have more stock, use hot water), until the rice is tender, but still with a bite (not overcooked), about 20-25 minutes.
Turn off the heat.

Now the last and most important step of them all ("mantecatura" in Italian). At this stage you will give its creamy and silky consistence that makes for a great and delicious "risotto all'onda", stirring in the remaining unsalted butter, saffron is added during the final stages of the cooking process,  and the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, freshly grated, till you reach the right texture.
Saffron Risotto - Risotto alla Milanese - recipe
Saffron is added during the final stage of the risotto cooking process.

Risotto with Saffron with Mama Isa
Saffron is added during the final stage of the risotto cooking process

Taste for salt, adding more if necessary. Cover the risotto pan and leave the saffron risotto to stand for about 2-3 minutes, then serve it while it is still hot.
Risotto allo Zafferano

Photos by Mama Isa's Cooking School 

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