#2 MILAN AND THE YELLOW RISOTTO
[Let’s wander around Italy with Marco on the hunt for the most typical dishes of our heritage. Which you can also replicate at home if you fancy. That’s right because we’re going to give you the recipe!]
MILAN is a city full of secret spots – the buildings often have hidden courtyards that you’d never expect, with magnolias growing tall and bearing white, fleshy flowers.
The gardens concealed behind doorways can be found not only in stately homes, but also in the most everyday houses – here they’re called “case di ringhiera”, or running balcony houses, because of the walkways that run along the interior façades and provide access to the flats.
Another hidden gem would be midollo dell’ossobuco, braised veal shank bone marrow: meat with an incredibly soft texture to be scooped and eaten with a fork and served alongside the signature yellow-coloured rice. Ossobuco with saffron risotto is a classic amongst Milanese dishes.
The rice fields to the south of the city (or in neighbouring Piedmont) have always kept the people of Milan in good supply, from the most lavish of table spreads to the most modest – ever since the time of the House of Sforza at the end of the 15th century.
Yellow Risotto is hot, fragrant, and the perfect comfort food.
If the idea of braised veal shank ossobuco and bone marrow scares you, don’t panic: Yellow Risotto is within the capabilities of even the least experienced. I promise! If we leave the ossobuco aside... All you need is an onion, a stock cube, some butter, and one or two bags of saffron. And some rice of course!
[preparation time: just under half an hour]
Ingredients [serves 4]
- Half a white onion
- 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
- A knob of butter
- 1.5 litres of water
- 2 stock cubes (meat or vegetable, either is fine)
- 80g of rice per head (Carnaroli is ideal but don’t go mad trying to find it)
- 2 bags of powdered saffron (pistils are hard to find, bags are more than fine)
- optional: half a glass of white wine
Boil the water with the stock cubes. There’s no need for salt.
Add the finely chopped onion to a saucepan (a shallow frying pan will also work) and heat the extra virgin olive oil on a low heat. You should let this sizzle on a medium heat until it starts to brown. Be careful not to let it burn as this would give off an unpleasant aroma.
Now is the time to pour in the rice, which you should “toast” for a few seconds in the onion (or, if you prefer, add some wine to, which will be evaporated).
Cook the rice over a medium heat by pouring in the stock one ladleful at a time: let it evaporate while making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom, then pour in another ladleful, and so on, for the cooking time indicated on the packet. That’s right, the rice must be stirred constantly. It takes patience [but you can have a chat to pass the time while you wait]...
A couple of minutes before the rice is completely cooked, pour in the last two ladlefuls of stock that you dissolved the saffron in earlier: the rice will immediately turn yellow, bathing your kitchen in that distinctive spicy fragrance...
The secret to a good Risotto is to let it rest for a few minutes before serving: turn off the heat, add a knob of butter to the Risotto (the heat of the rice itself will make it melt gradually) and sprinkle with a dusting of Parmesan cheese, without overdoing it.
Et voilà, your 100% Italian lunch is served.
Buon appetito! 💗