Risotto

Risotto giallo alla Milanese – Michele Ursino CC BY-SA 2.0

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Risotto (/rɪˈzɒtoʊ/, Italian: [riˈzɔtto], from riso meaning “rice” is a northern Italian rice dish cooked with broth until it reaches a creamy consistency. The broth can be derived from meat, fish, or vegetables. Many types of risotto contain butter, onion, white wine, and parmesan cheese. It is one of the most common ways of cooking rice in Italy. Saffron was originally used for flavor and its signature yellow color.

Ingredients

  • Rice,
  • broth,
  • butter,
  • onion,
  • white wine,
  • parmesan cheese

Place of origins

Lombardy

Risotto in Italy is normally the first course served before the main course, but risotto alla Milanese is often served with ossobuco alla Milanese as the main course.

ossobuco with risotto milanese style – pier CC BY-SA 4.0

Risotto alla milanese (ris sgiald or risot a la milanesa in Lombard language), is, together with cotoletta alla milanese and panettone, the most typical and famous dish of Milan. It is a risotto whose main ingredients, in addition to those necessary to prepare a risotto in white, are saffron, from which it derives its characteristic yellow color, and ox marrow. It can also be served as a side dish of ossobuco, another typical Milanese dish.

History

The origins of risotto alla milanese date back to the Middle Ages and are connected to a similar recipe of Arab and Jewish cuisine. In the Middle Ages, in Italy, this dish was known as riso col zafran.

Risotto alla Milanese was born in 1574 at the table of the Belgian glassmaker Valerio di Fiandra, who was living in Milan because he was working on the windows of Milan Cathedral. For his daughter’s wedding, his colleague’s glassmakers added saffron to a white risotto with butter: this spice was used by glassmakers to obtain a particular yellow coloration of glass. The new dish was immediately successful, both for its taste and its yellow tonality, which recalled gold, a synonym of richness. Saffron also has pharmacological properties, and therefore yellow risotto soon spread in Milan’s taverns and inns.

Risotto alla Milanese immediately disappeared from the chronicles to reappear on documents in 1809, when it was defined as “yellow rice in the pan.” Later on, in 1829, in another recipe book, the famous Milanese dish is described as “risotto alla Milanese Giallo” (yellow risotto Milanese style), taking the name with which it is universally known still today.

Risotto alla Milanese in the Fascist Regime

Risotto alla Milanese was present in various versions in cookbooks which, from the beginning of the 20th century, began to be written by women as well, even though they only contained a list of ingredients, without any other indications about the doses or the cooking method. In 1917 the National Association of Cooks published Cucina di Guerra (War Cookery), which gathered recipes particularly economical and practical by including the necessary quantities in every recipe.
Grains of rice – Carnaroli quality

One of the cornerstones of the Regime was the return to traditional values, which saw in culinary ability an indispensable dowry for young brides. For this reason, the first editions of cookbooks such as Cucina pratica (Practical Cooking) of 1936 were written by the anonymous Aunt Carolina.

The exportation of the recipe

In 1984 wrote Gualtiero Marchesi’s modern interpretation, one of the most famous, “oro e zafferano” (gold and saffron), which, besides specifying the quality of rice (Carnaroli), adds, at the last moment, four excellent gold leaflets.

At the beginning of the 1980s, in Italian restaurants in the United States of America, risotto became the most popular dish, so much so that in 1993 Florence Fabricant, an American food critic and writer, published an article on risotto in the American newspaper Nation’s Restaurant News, entitled Mystique of Risotto.

Grains of Carnaroli rice, produced in Italy. – Badagnani CC BY 3.0

The recipe that was deposited at the Municipality of Milan

By resolving the Municipal Council of the Municipality of Milan, on December 14th, 2007, the following recipe received the recognition of Denominazione Comunale (De.Co.) of Risotto alla Milanese. The acronym De.Co. in Italy indicates the belonging of a dish to a territory, and the Municipalities recognize it to the gastronomic products more connected to the territory and the local community.

Ingredients: for 6 people

30 g of minced beef or ox marrow
2-3 l of reduced boiling broth: it should not be "stock cube".
Two tablespoons of light and dark beef roast fat (if missing, increase the marrow to 60 g)
One small finely chopped onion
A tuft of saffron pistils or a sachet of saffron
Salt
Plenty of grated parmesan cheese
50 g of butter

How to make Risotto alla Milanese

Here is the preparation
Place the marrow, butter, roast fat, and onion in a saucepan. Cook over low heat until the onion is golden brown. Add the rice and stir well to allow it to absorb the seasoning. At this point, turn up the heat and start pouring the boiling broth over the rice in ladles, stirring regularly with a wooden spoon. As the broth evaporates and is absorbed, continue to cook over high heat, adding more broth in ladles until the rice is cooked, making sure the rice remains al dente (cooking time from 14 to 18 minutes approximately, depending on the quality of rice used). When the rice is two-thirds cooked, add the saffron pistils previously dissolved in the broth: however, if powdered saffron is used, it must be added at the end of cooking not to lose its aroma. When cooked, add the butter and Parmesan cheese and allow to thicken for a few minutes. Add salt to taste. The risotto should be pretty liquid (“all’onda”), with the grains well divided but bound together by a creamy mixture. It is essential never to add wine, which would kill the aroma of the saffron. Do not cook more than seven/eight portions at a time.

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