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Risotto Milanese with Chardonnay

Recipe Date:
October 13, 2014
Serving Size:
4
Cook Time:
01:00:00
Difficulty:
Medium
Measurements:
Imperial (US)
There's a reason this dish has withstood the test of time, mentions of this dish being served at Italian weddings in the 1500's exist. Perfect Risotto has a characteristic al dente bite under a blanket of creaminess. An all-over richness contrasts with the distinctness of each individual kernel. But it's most distinguishing feature is due to the magical spice called saffron, which is (by weight) the most expensive spice in the world. But do not despair! A tiny pinch of this spice goes a long way in any dish. Derived from the Safron Crocus flower, which grows the thin, fragile red stems from its purple bloom. It takes hundreds of these flowers to create just an ounce of the stuff, and it must be hand-harvested. Yet you only need a pinch for a whole dish to take on its mellow, yellow essence.
Ingredients
  • 1 Onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups Arborio Rice-it's worth it to get the short-grained Arborio
  • 1/2 tsp Saffron threads
  • 1 1/2 cups Fortunati Chardonnay
  • 3 1/2 cups Chicken stock-kept hot
  • 1 tbsp Italian Parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsps Butter
  • 3/4 cup Parmigiana-Reggiano, freshly grated
Directions

Over a medium heat, coat the large saucepan with olive oil, add salt and the finely chopped onion.  Cook until translucent, about 4-5 minutes.  Increase heat to medium-high and add Arborio rice, stir briskly ensuring the grains are coated with oil.  Saute for 3-4 minutes, as the rice sticks to the pan, scrape it off.  It will sound crackly and start to give off a slightly nutty aroma.  The rice shouldn't become brown or toasted.

Add the saffron to the hot chicken stock, which will turn a bright yellow.

To brighten the overall flavors of this dish and soften the kernels of rice, add the Fortunati Chardonnay to the rice and season with salt, stirring constantly until it's fully absorbed.  Add about 1/3 of the saffron chicken stock until it completely covers the rice and also stir constantly until it, too, is fully absorbed.  Repeat this process two more times, adding the hot chicken stock, stirring constantly to prevent sticking.  We have found that we enjoy the stirring much more when we drink some wine during this process! When the third addition of stock is absorbed and the rice is very creamy, taste a few grains to be sure it's fully cooked.  Arborio rice will take on a creamy consistency as it begins to release its natural starches.  When al dente, it's done-grains are tender, yet firm to the bite, without being crunchy or mushy.

Stir in butter and freshly grated cheese.  Add a pinch of freshly chopped Italian parsley, if desired.  Serve immediately (it becomes sticky if sitting too long) and contemplate how you, too, are now part of an ancient and classic Italian tradition!