Risotto alla Milanese


Risotto alla Milanese is the traditional accompaniment to Osso Bucco.

The Northern Italian dish gets its lovely, vibrant color from saffron. Perhaps the world’s most expensive spice, saffron is derived from the flower of an ancient member of the crocus family with Mediterranean origins. Each plant can bear up to four flowers but, there are only three stigmas (tiny thread-like strands), in each flower. The strands have been cultivated, dried and used for seasoning since biblical times.

Soaking the saffron in hot water or broth before you add it to the recipe, releases its distinctive flavor and yellowy-orange color. Be aware, as with true extra-virgin olive oil, “counterfeit” saffron is readily available to unsuspecting consumers. if it’s too good to be true …



  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, steeped in 2 teaspoons hot water
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 6 Tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2/3 cup arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups chicken broth, hot (simmer on top of the stove)
  • 3 Tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano ¬†cheese, grated
  1. Using a medium saucepan, melt 4 tablespoon of the butter and saute the onions until soft and translucent.
  2. Add the rice, stirring to coat each grain (yes, each little grain). After a few minutes the rice becomes transparent.
  3. Now, add the wine and 1 ladle (about a cup) of the hot broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a medium simmer and stir until broth has almost evaporated. Repeat with the second cup of broth and cook until it too has nearly evaporated.
  4. Add the last of the broth and the saffron (including the soaking water), stirring and cooking until the liquid has been absorbed. The rice should be tender, yet firm.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in the 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the cheese and season with a bit of salt if necessary.
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