Other

Saffron Risotto Recipe

Saffron Risotto Recipe

Istock/FotografiaBasica

Saffron

Throughout the centuries saffron has been a symbol of wealth and elegance. (However, they believed too much of it could produce a state of euphoria and even death from too much laughter!).

A spice consisting of the dried stigmas of the saffron crocus, it was introduced into Spain by the Arabs, and later cultivated in Mediterranean regions and elsewhere in Europe. In France, it was grown by “safraniers” in the sixteenth century. In England, the Essex town of Saffron Walden became the center of saffron cultivation.

Rice was introduced into Italy during the Middle Ages by Venetian or Genoese merchants who traded with the east. The earliest documentation of rice cultivation in Italy dates to 1475. Risotto is specific to northern Italy where rice paddies are abundant. — Maite Gomez-Réjon.

Adapted from the ArtBites tour of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Ingredients

  • 3 ½ cups chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • Pinch of saffron
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus shavings for garnish (optional)

Directions

Bring stock to a low simmer in a medium pot.

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat for 1 minute. Cook onion until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add rice and a pinch of salt. Sauté until rice is translucent, 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine and saffron; bring to a simmer, stirring, until rice has absorbed most of wine. Add 2 ladles of stock to rice; simmer, stirring, until rice has absorbed most of stock. Continue adding stock, allowing rice to absorb it before adding the next ladleful. Cook until rice is al dente and mixture is a little loose. Stir in butter.

Turn off heat. Stir in grated cheese. Cover and let sit 2 minutes before serving.

Click here to see the Eating Through the Ages: A Musuem and Culinary Tour story.


Recipe Summary

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 shallots, minced
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/8 teaspoon saffron
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken stock, skimmed of fat
  • 6 sage leaves (about 1 tablespoon), coarsely chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Heat oven to 450 degrees. In a medium ovenproof saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add shallots cook, stirring until shallots are translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add rice, and stir until grains are shiny and well coated with oil, about 2 minutes more. Add saffron and wine, and continue cooking and stirring until liquid is absorbed, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add stock, sage, salt, and pepper. Cover saucepan transfer to oven. Bake until all of the stock is absorbed and rice is tender, about 25 minutes.

Remove the cover from saucepan. Dot the top of the rice with butter, arrange sage over the rice, and bake until butter is melted, about 5 minutes more. Serve immediately.


Risotto allo Zafferano (Saffron Risotto Recipe)

Pasta may be Italy’s most famous first course, but rice is equally key to Italian cuisine – especially in the northern region of Lombardia. During the Renaissance, the swamps near Milano were turned into rice paddies, and rice has played a starring role ever since. One of our favorite Milanese dishes is the iconic Saffron Risotto.

Risotto allo Zafferano (Saffron Risotto)
Recipe courtesy of Eataly

For the broth:
Piece of boiled beef
1 carrot
1 onion
1 celery stalk
1 parsley stalk
2-3 peppercorns
Sea salt, to taste

For the risotto:
1 2/3 cups rice, preferably Carnaroli
Saffron, to taste
½ cup white wine
½ cup Grana Padano, grated
½ medium onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

To prepare the broth, combine all of the ingredients in a pot, and cover with cold water, and bring to a boil for at least two hours, or until the meat is tender. Season the broth with salt, and keep the pot simmering while preparing the risotto.

In a medium saucepan, heat about 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium-high heat, and add the onion, sautéing until it becomes soft and translucent, about 20 minutes.

Add the rice to the pan, and toast it, stirring constantly, until it becomes fragrant. Add the white wine, and stir until it has evaporated and the rice is translucent with just a small pearl visible in the center of the grain.

Add 1 ladleful of the broth, stirring until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Using a spatula, collect all of the grains from the sides of the pot, and stir into the mixture so that the rice cooks evenly. Continue adding 1 ladleful of the warm stock at a time, stirring constantly to ensure even cooking. Taste the rice before each addition of broth to gauge how close it is to being cooked and to adjust the seasoning with salt.

While the rice is cooking, toast the saffron in a small pan over low heat. Crumble the toasted saffron, and combine with a small amount of the broth.

When the rice is al dente, stir the saffron-infused broth into the risotto. Season with salt, to taste. Remove the pot from the heat, and add the butter and Grana Padano. Stir until the ingredients are completely incorporated.

Serve the risotto into four warm bowls.

Ready to make this saffron risotto recipe at home? Find all the ingredients at your local Eataly or online, and get a taste of Lombardia! We're featuring the best products from the region this month in partnership with Explora Lombardia.


Step 1. First of all if you use saffron in threads, put them into a 1/2 cup of water for a few hours. If you use saffron powder you can use it straight away.

Step 2. Prepare or heat the stock. Add salt if needed (usually you don’t add salt directly in risotto, only through the stock, so it should be salted enough) and keep it hot while you are cooking.

Step 3. Heat 70 gr of butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add minced onion and cook until it becomes translucent but not browned. Add the rice and cook until lightly toasted, about 4 minutes. Add wine and cook until it is evaporated, about 2 minutes.

Step 4. Add 1/2 cup of hot stock and stir the rice. Now you can reduce the heat to medium-low and cover your pan. After 2-3 minutes, when the stock is absorbed, add more stock and stir again. Continue cooking adding the stock every 3-5 minutes. Wait until the liquid is absorbed before adding more! After about 13-15 minutes add the water with saffron threads (or saffron powder) and stir well. Continue cooking for a few minutes more according to the time indicated on the rice package (usually the total is about 15-17 minutes).

Step 5. Turn off the heat, add the rest of butter and grated parmesan cheese. Your Milanese Risotto is ready!


Classic Saffron Risotto Recipe

Ever since we launched our Northern Italy group trips, we've been all about cooking regional recipes in our kitchen. And when it comes to Milan, it's hard to.

Ever since we launched our Northern Italy group trips, we've been all about cooking regional recipes in our kitchen. And when it comes to Milan, it's hard to get more classic than Risotto alla Milanese. The reason we love it is that the dish uses some of the iconic ingredients that distinguish the region from other parts of Italy — namely, rice instead of pasta, butter instead of olive oil, and Grana Padano instead of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

And, of course, we love it because it's one of those totally over-the-top dishes that's so rich (in fat and price thanks to the saffron) that it's always a showstopper.

Okay, now it's time to stock up your panty with all the Italian essential ingredients , then try your hand at making this and then share your creation with us by tagging @ saltandwind and #swsociety on social!


  • In a heavy-based saucepan that’s large enough to hold the rice with plenty of room left over, cook the onion in 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat until it’s translucent and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the rice and cook it over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Add the wine, 2 cups of broth, and the saffron. Turn the heat to high until the broth comes to a simmer and then adjust the heat to maintain a steady simmer.
  • Cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed, stirring every minute or two (there’s no need to stir constantly). Add another cup of broth and keep cooking, stirring, and adding broth until the rice is al dente but not raw or grainy in the middle (see tip on Stirring risotto).
  • When the rice is ready, stir in the cheese. Add a little more broth to give the risotto the consistency you like (from fairly tight to almost soupy). Off the heat, stir in the remaining 6 tablespoons butter. Season with salt and pepper and ladle onto heated plates or bowls.

Make Ahead Tips

If you try to make risotto ahead completely and then reheat it, it will be overcooked and mushy. Instead, you can cook it until it’s about halfway done—the rice should still be rather firm inside—and then spread it out on a baking sheet to stop cooking and cool. Cover the rice and set it aside at room temperature for up to two hours. When you’re ready to serve the risotto, return it to the pot and resume adding hot liquid until it’s perfectly al dente, a few minutes later.

If you have any leftover risotto, it’s delicious made into crunchy Risotto Cakes.

Recipe Notes

Add to List

Related


Recipe Summary

  • 2 qts. reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • ½ teaspoon saffron threads
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 cups Carnaroli or Arborio rice
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup finely grated grana or parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons crème fraîche
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped preserved lemon (rind only), store-bought or homemade
  • ½ teaspoon Marash or Aleppo pepper*
  • Spice-Crusted Scallops

Bring chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan, covered. Add saffron and reduce to a bare simmer, covered.

Melt butter over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed 8-qt. pot. Add onion cook until translucent and turning golden, 10 minutes. Stir in thyme. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, until edges of grains look translucent, about 2 minutes.

Add wine and salt to rice and cook, stirring, until wine is completely absorbed. Add about 1 cup hot broth and simmer, stirring, until absorbed reduce heat to medium-low if mixture starts to boil. Keep adding broth, a ladleful at a time, stirring until each addition is absorbed before adding the next, until rice is just tender to the bite and still slightly soupy, 15 to 30 minutes. You may have broth left over.

Remove rice from heat and stir in cheese, crème fraîche, 2 tbsp. chives, the preserved lemon, and Marash pepper. Serve immediately with Spice-Crusted Scallops. Scatter more chives on top.


  • 14 ounces risotto rice (400g about 2 cups), preferably carnaroli or vialone nano
  • 4 cups (950ml) homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock or homemade vegetable stock, plus more as needed (see note)
  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, minced (about 200g 7 ounces)
  • 1 cup (225ml) dry white wine
  • 2 generous pinches saffron
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 ounces (40g) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 cup (115ml) heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks (optional see note)

Combine rice and stock in a large bowl. Agitate rice with fingers or a whisk to release starch. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer set over a 2-quart liquid cup measure or large bowl. Allow to drain well, shaking rice of excess liquid.

Heat oil in a heavy 12-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add rice and cook, stirring and tossing frequently, until all liquid has evaporated and rice sizzles and takes on a nutty aroma, about 5 minutes. Add onion and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pan is nearly dry, about 3 minutes.

Give reserved stock a good stir and pour all but 1 cup over rice. Add saffron and a large pinch of salt, increase heat to high, and bring to a simmer. Stir rice once, making sure no stray grains are clinging to side of pan above the liquid. Cover and reduce heat to lowest possible setting.

Cook rice for 10 minutes undisturbed. Stir once, shake pan gently to redistribute rice, cover, and continue cooking until liquid is mostly absorbed and rice is tender with just a faint bite, about 5 minutes longer.

Remove lid. Stir remaining 1 cup of stock to distribute starch, then stir into rice. Increase heat to high, add butter, and cook, stirring and shaking rice constantly until butter has melted and rice is thick and creamy add more stock or water as necessary if risotto becomes too dry. Off heat, add cheese and stir rapidly to thoroughly incorporate. Fold in heavy cream, if using. Season with salt. Serve immediately on hot plates, passing more cheese at the table.


How to Make It

Bring chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan, covered. Add saffron and reduce to a bare simmer, covered.

Melt butter over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed 8-qt. pot. Add onion cook until translucent and turning golden, 10 minutes. Stir in thyme. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, until edges of grains look translucent, about 2 minutes.

Add wine and salt to rice and cook, stirring, until wine is completely absorbed. Add about 1 cup hot broth and simmer, stirring, until absorbed reduce heat to medium-low if mixture starts to boil. Keep adding broth, a ladleful at a time, stirring until each addition is absorbed before adding the next, until rice is just tender to the bite and still slightly soupy, 15 to 30 minutes. You may have broth left over.

Remove rice from heat and stir in cheese, crème fraîche, 2 tbsp. chives, the preserved lemon, and Marash pepper. Serve immediately with Spice-Crusted Scallops. Scatter more chives on top.


Saffron Risotto with Lemony Braised Spring Vegetables (+ The Hard Choices We Make Around Health)

It’s become extremely apparent in the last six months that we live in a nation divided.

On one side of the aisle, there are the Paleo peeps, and on the other their Plant-Based brothers and sisters.

(Oh, did you think we were about to talk about politics? Well, only kinda sorta…)

These two groups truly are the Sharks and Jets of the food world. The only commonality in their belief systems is that blueberries are awesome, so long as they’re organic and not flown in from Chile. And each side is likely to point a You’re-Fake-News finger at the other when it comes to the rest.

I remain permanently, decisively on the fence.

Emotionally, I prefer to eat mostly plants. Physically, I have to admit that I feel pretty good when I cut out grains. Those two things may not seem mutually exclusive on the surface. But I’ve found it’s pretty hard to eat out in the world as a grain-free person if you’re not willing to put more meat on your plate.

My biggest issue with pushers of high protein, low carb diets is how extreme some of their arguments are.

Just this weekend I attended a talk with a functional medicine doctor. Her shtick (and they all have an unwavering one) is that we all need to be eating 100 grams of animal protein a day. That’s the equivalent of three 8-ounce chicken breasts. She had some interesting things to say, but I bristled when she went so far in her defense of this protein protocol as to call the sustainability and environmental issues with meat production a myth.

Eat what you want to eat. But that my friends, is not fake news.

I listened politely, and when the time came for the Q&A, I asked a question that was my biggest conundrum during Anti-Inflammatory month of The Wellness Project, and my more recent elimination diet:

If you’re eating more meat, and are not making your own meals 100 percent of the time, it inevitably means you’re going to be faced with the prospect of eating conventionally raised meat, which is packed with hormones that are problematic for thyroid health (and any endocrine condition).

So are we better off eating animals injected with hormones just to get our protein, or eating plants instead?

Her answer, if you can call it that, was “I would tell you to start prioritizing your health.”

She then recommended that I hire a private chef if I had to. (Which made me smirk.)

The exchange pretty much summed up every single reason I wrote The Wellness Project.

I wrote it because there are too many doctors who preach that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, yet one solution is all they preach. These Upper East Side practitioners can’t fathom that their solutions are not accessible or affordable for the majority of the population. And they make the rest of us feel crazy, guilty or ashamed when we voice the hard choices we make to fit health into real life.

My mission has always been to talk about them.

No matter how many people in the wellness space choose to broadcast their way of living in terms of right or wrong, very few of our health modalities and beliefs in practice are black and white wine or kale carbs or carne. For the average person, these choices are nuanced, and often times, yes, hard.

In order to make them easier, I say it’s important to tune out the noise and the fear, and try a few different diets on for size. Once you find your hard lines and your wiggle room, that’s when the questioning gets easier.

The sweet spot I’ve found between health and hedonism in this area is to eat my grains with plants, and plants with my meat. This way I always ensure my plate is 50 percent veg. It’s also how I manage to get my One Part Plant meal of the day in!

This Milanese-style saffron risotto recipe is one of my new obsessions, and was my attempt to make a plant-based version of one of my favorite grain-free dishes in the book: a turmeric-braised chicken. The vegetarian version here has similar hues, but uses saffron instead of turmeric.

Since saffron is on the more expensive side of the spice aisle, you can easily substitute 1 teaspoon of turmeric to get the same effect instead. It’s all about fitting this shit into your life, remember?

For the veggie topping, I used a variety of spring produce: carrots, radishes, leeks, golden beets. Feel free to switch it up with whatever looks good at the market. Asparagus, shallots, and fennel would all make excellent additions to the mix. The veggies get braised in lemon juice and white wine until their juices create a luscious bath for the risotto, but the flesh still has a nice bite.

What are some of your biggest hard choices around food and health in general? I would love you to share them in the comments section. Here’s hoping that this saffron risotto recipe with lemony braised spring vegetables can make some of them that much easier (and tastier).

And if you haven’t ordered The Wellness Project book yet to help you sort through the rest, I hope you will! There are only two weeks left until launch, and your pre-orders really help in getting the publisher’s sales team rallied around the book, which means it will get in the hands of more people, and that many more collective hard choices will get easier!