Risotto alla Milanese

This recipe is only suitable for risotto (arborio) rice, which needs quite different treatment from long-grain rice. A high proportion of liquid is used, the rice is cooked in an uncovered pan, and a good deal of stirring is necessary – particularly towards the end of cooking. It's a relatively simple dish but absolutely beautiful if made properly. You can either serve it on its own as a first course or it's very good served as an accompaniment to Ossobucco.

Serves 4

This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course and Delia Smith’s Complete Illustrated Cookery Course.

Risotto alla Milanese
 risotto (arborio) rice, measured to the 12 floz (350ml) level in a measuring jug
 4 oz (110 g) butter
 ½ level teaspoon powdered saffron
 1 medium onion, chopped
 2 tablespoons bone marrow (optional; try asking an obliging butcher for marrow bones)
 5 tablespoons dry white wine
 about 2 pints (1.2 litres) boiling Chicken Giblet Stock (click here for recipe)
 4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano) plus extra to serve
 salt and freshly milled black pepper


Begin by melting half the butter in a heavy-based saucepan, add the saffron and allow 1 minute for the heat to draw out the flavour. Then add the chopped onion and bone marrow and cook, over a low heat, for about 10 minutes until softened.

Stir in the rice and cook for a minute or two before adding the wine and some salt. Stir gently once, then simmer over a low heat, without a lid, until the liquid has been absorbed (about 10-15 minutes). Now put in a ladleful of the boiling stock and again let it simmer until the stock has nearly all been absorbed but the rice is still moist. Continue adding the boiling stock a ladleful at a time until the rice is tender but still creamy. There should still be a very little liquid visible – a risotto should be soupy rather than mushy. Stir as necessary to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan – particularly towards the end.

When the rice is cooked, remove the pan from the heat, stir in the remaining butter and Parmesan cheese. Cover and leave to stand, off the heat, for 5 minutes before serving. Season to taste then serve with lots more freshly grated Parmesan cheese on the table.

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