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Dec 24, 2012

Risotto Milanese

As a person of Indian descent, it’s a bit of a no-brainer that I love the crap out of rice. And, as a tiny adult with not nearly enough insulation, I am often freezing my butt off. I’ve been in India for over a week now, and although it is December, the temperatures during the day are a pleasant 75 to 80 degrees. That having been said, I’ve been wandering around my relatives flat in the morning with two pairs of leggings, a cheetah print fleece robe, a heavy wool overcoat and fox fur earmuffs. My dad told me I look embarrassing, but, I don’t see anything embarrassing in being warm. So, there, dad. The earmuffs stay!

So, naturally risotto is one of my favorite things to eat. It’s a meal made out of rice! Could you make an Asian person happier? And, it’s soupy and warm and hearty which satisfies my biological predisposition to eating as much rice as possible AND feeling warm. In short, risotto is the shit.

It’s also no secret that Indians love saffron. So, Risotto Milanese is my favorite go to when I’m craving some rice. Risotto Milanese is a basic risotto that has been flavored with saffron infused beef broth.

For some reason, risotto has gotten this really bad rap for being a tedious process that is difficult to master. Not so, friend. Risotto usually takes about 20 minutes to make, and the only arduous task involved is babysitting the pot and stirring more broth in frequently to create a nice, creamy texture. Just don’t get up and watch Fashion Police or ESPN while you’re making this and you will be just fine.

The recipe I am going to show you is a very basic risotto, but you can add more herbs, vegetables or even seafood to make it your own. I had a package of shitake mushrooms in the fridge, so I sautéed them on the side and folded them into the risotto before serving.

There is some dispute as to whether white wine is necessary to making a good risotto. Yes, it is. Don’t play yourself, open up a nice bottle of Chardonnay and pour the risotto and yourself a glass. Why? Because you’re worth it.

Risotto Milanese 


1 yellow onion very finely minced

6 T unsalted butter

1.2 C Carnolini Rice (Arborio rice will do just as well)

¼  C dry white wine

4 cups of beef of chicken stock (I made a vegetarian version with mushroom broth and it tasted just as good.)

½ t Saffron Threads

¾ finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Salt and pepper to taste



In a small saucepot, heat broth and saffron on low temperature until ready for use.

In a heavy based saucepan, add 2 ½ T of butter and finely minced onion and sweat over low heat (about 4-5 minutes) until the onions are translucent and let off a sweet aroma. Increase the heat to medium and add the rice into the saucepan and stir, toasting the grains until they take on a translucent color (about 2-3 minutes)

We are going to add our liquid in three increments and add the wine at the end of cooking. Add one third of the simmering broth into the saucepan and stir constantly until the rice absorbs all of the liquid. Repeat the same steps for the remaining 2/3 of simmering broth, and do not forget to stir.

Once all of the liquid is absorbed, stir in the white wine and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Many recipes add the white wine as the first addition of liquid to the risotto, but while I was at the Culinary Institute of America, we were taught to put it at the end of the cooking process; the final addition of liquid. The difference in taste in phenomenal and even the Pro Chef text uses this approach. Fight any urge to add the wine first and trust me on this one: you will get a much more complex flavor if you add the wine last.

Take saucepot off the heat and stir in remaining butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste and immediately ladle into serving bowls. You can garnish the bowls with shavings of parmesan for a nice presentation.

And that’s all it, folks! Not so daunting, right? I hope I made it a little less intimidating for you. Enjoy!