Risotto Milanese

This classic dish from Milan requires careful attention but is well worth the effort. The creamy texture and exquisite flavor and color delight eye and palate alike. Risotto is one of the few rice dishes where the rice is stirred while cooking, necessitated by the nature of arborio, a short grain rice from the north of Italy.  It is a traditional accompaniment for Osso Buco and dishes prepared in the Florentine style. With the addition of julienne ham, pickled tongue, mushrooms or truffles it serves as a separate course.

1 cup arborio rice*   2 T. butter    ½ finely chopped small onion    ½ cup dry white wine
3-4 cups chicken, veal or vegetable stock   ¼ tsp. saffron    ½ cup grated Parmesano Reggiano

Melt 1T. butter in a heavy bottom casserole or saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté till limp but not colored. Blend in the rest of the butter, then add the rice. Stir with a wooden spoon until rice begins to stick to the bottom of the pan. Add the wine and continue stirring until it evaporates. Mix the saffron with simmering stock and quickly add 1 cup of the mixture to the rice. Gently stir until it is almost completely absorbed. Continue this process until the rice is done yet still firm (approx. 15 min.). Add the Parmesan and stir to blend. Serve immediately. (Serves 4)

*Arborio can now be found in many supermarkets.  If not, try gourmet shops or Italian specialty stores. Grains should be unbroken and evenly translucent, not opaque.

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