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Risotto with Saffron

Once again, I ventured into the world of risotto and once again my performance anxiety struck. I’ve written about this affliction before on this blog a number of times and, by now, one would think I’d have overcome it. But no. One failure at making risotto years ago and visions of my guests politely chewing chalky grains of under-cooked rice keep haunting me. Out, out, damned spot!

Nevertheless, a few nights ago I faced my fears and made another risotto. It was a success; in fact, my better half admitted to scraping the pot with his finger to savor the last morsels of rice as he was cleaning up. If I had had more confidence, there would have been more pictures illustrating this post. But I think that my recent achievement with the dish has left me far more confident.

My recipe comes from a small book by famed New York City restaurateur Tony May titled Italian Cuisine. Although, like most recipes for the famed Risotto alla Milanese, it called for beef marrow and meat broth, I omitted the marrow and used chicken broth.

I heated 1 1/4 quarts of chicken broth on a burner close to my enameled cast-iron risotto pot.

To the pot I added 2 ounces of butter with a little olive oil and sauteed a cup of finely chopped yellow onion sprinkled with a little salt. Once the onions became tender, I added 12 ounces of Carnaroli rice and, over medium high heat, toasted it until the fat was absorbed. I then added 1/2 of a dry white wine and stirred until the wine had evaporated.

Next, I added a ladle of the warm broth and, still over medium high heat, stirred constantly until the rice absorbed the broth. I continued to add broth, one ladle at a time, and to stir until each ladleful was absorbed before adding the next one.

About 10 minutes into the cooking, I added to the rice a large pinch of saffron that I had dissolved in a little broth.

I continued adding broth and stirring until the rice was cooked, al dente, but not chalky, about 20 minutes. I then turned off the burner and added another ounce of butter and 6 tablespoons of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. I stirred the rice until the ingredients were blended thoroughly and the risotto was smooth.

Success. Delicious. Confident. Now I just have to hold on to this feeling.

Wine Pairing: Frascati

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