While risotto can be labour intensive, with all the stirring involved, the end dish is so worth it! This is a classic recipe in the Milanese style, calling for the use of Saffron. Saffron for those who are not familiar with it is the stigma from the crocus flower. It is pollinated and harvested by hand, making it one of the most expensive ingredients in the world. Luckily, a little goes a long way. Saffron lends a distinctive taste and colour to this dish, and in my mind, is worth the price. This recipe makes 4-6 servings, as a side dish.
extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, cut into ¼ inch dice
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups Arborio rice
2 large pinches saffron
3 to 4 cups vegetable stock, kept HOT
1 to 1 ½ cups dry white wine
2 tablespoons butter
½ to ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Coat a large saucepan generously with olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and salt and sweat them until translucent, about 5 minutes. Bring the pan to a medium-high heat. Add the rice and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, letting the rice slightly stick to the bottom of the pan and scraping it off. It should also sound crackly. Add the saffron to the hot stock; the stock should turn bright yellow. Add the wine to the pan until it covers the surface of the rice. Season with salt and cook over a medium-high heat, stirring continuously until the wine has absorbed into the rice. Add the saffron stock to the pan until it covers the rice. Cook over a medium-high heat, stirring continuously until the stock has absorbed into the rice. Repeat this process two more times with the hot saffron stock. When the third addition of the stock has absorbed and the rice is very creamy, bite a couple grains of rice to be sure it is cooked perfectly. If it is still a little crunchy, add a little more stock and cook the rice for another couple of minutes. When the rice is cooked perfectly, remove it from the heat. Toss in the butter and cheese and “whip the heck out of it.” The rice should be creamy but still flow and hold its own shape.