Milanese Risotto

Ingredients:

2 T olive oil
1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
Pinch of salt
1 cup Acquerello Carnaroli Risotto Rice, or use Arborio
1/2 cup white wine
3 1/2 – 4 cups beef stock, heated
1-2 pinches of saffron rubbed between your fingers
1/8 t ground white pepper, or to taste
1 pinch of salt, or to taste
1 pinch of ground nutmeg
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 T butter

Garnish: more Parmesan!

Spoon Mage™ Note:

Saffron is what makes this risotto Milanese. It adds beautiful color with a hint of smoky flavor. I’ve seen more traditional recipes include bone marrow to complete the flavor pairings of risotto as a side to the traditional Osco Bucco. You can buy beef bone stock nowadays. If you wish, sub it in for 1 cup of the beef stock added after the white wine.

Risotto is a dish that wants to be the center of the cook’s attention, so prep everything before starting. You don’t have to get ridiculous stirring non-stop. You will notice, as you stir every now and then, that the mixture thickens, and the grains of rice start to think they want another ladle of stock – that is the time to stir slowly and more constantly, chat with the rice to determine when it really does need that next ladel. Don’t fuss, just keep it from getting dry and sticking to the pot.

Risotto is not really all that complex. It’s like a meal from a wok. All it asks is that you prep all the ingredients before starting. Heat the stock in medium sauce pan (no need to boil, just get it hot and then keep it on very low heat on a burner next to the pot for the rice).

Once everything is ready, it’s time to breathe and begin a pleasantly mindful risotto experience, one with no rushing about because you forgot to open the wine or grate the cheese.

This recipe makes 4-6 side dish servings and yes, the heat stays on medium the entire time. Total cooking time, including the prep should be about 45-50 minutes depending upon how fast you chop – let’s be mindful of fingers, ok? The rice cooks in the same amount of time it would take ordinary rice – about 30 minutes or so.

Directions:

Add the olive oil to a 3 quart saucepan set over medium heat.

When the oil begins to shimmer, add the onions and pinch of sea salt. Sauté for about 5-6 minutes or until the veggies soften, but do not let them brown.

Pour in the rice and stir gently but constantly for about 4 minutes, cooking until the edges of the grains become slightly transparent. A few grains will stick to your spoon each time it is removed. Check them out every now and then. It is easy to see when the change happens.

Now add the wine and stir mindfully until it is largely absorbed by the rice. You do not want the pan to go dry. Keep the rice slowly moving so it doesn’t burn. This won’t take long at all and it is fun to watch.

Add one cup or ladel of hot stock, stirring frequently but don’t make a federal case out of the stirring, just drag the spoon through it several times while the rice absorbs the liquif.

Add a second cup of hot stock, again stirring frequently, until the rice absorbs the liquid.

Add a third cup of hot stock before the rice dries out, and keep on stirring until the rice absorbs this dose of liquid. The grains should be nice and plump by now. Give one a taste. I will be pretty close to al dente (which is the perfect place for risotto to be). If they are not done, add a little bit of stock and stir a few more minutes.

Add the saffron, white pepper, nutmeg, and if you like salty foods, you might want to taste a grain or two and adjust the salt now.

Now add final splash of hot stock,  moderating the amount to where the risotto has a molten lava consistency. Not too dry, not too liquid.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheese just until it melts. Pour into a serving dish, dot here and there with butter, and enjoy.

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