If you have a few extra minutes, this is a must try. I made this simple risotto for dinner with scallops during the week but it would be great for a dinner party as a side dish too. Saffron gives the risotto a great base of flavor along with a beautiful yellow color. Yes, saffron can be a little expensive but a little goes a long way so even if you buy just a little, you will get many dishes out of it. I learned from a dear friend who is Iranian (which is where the BEST saffron comes from) that to get the maximin flavor, you need to crush the threads. I’m lucky that she not only shares her saffron with me but she crushes it too. Other than rice and saffron, this dish has just a few ingredients so they have to be good – chicken stock (homemade is preferable but if not, use low sodium so you can control the salt), white wine (if it’s not good enough to drink, do not use it in your dishes!) and parmesan cheese (always use freshly grated!).
2 cups Arborio rice
1/8th tsp Crushed saffron
1 cup Diced onion (I use a sweet onion like Vidalia)
1 cup Dry white wine (I use Pinot Grigio)
5 – 6 cups Chicken stock, hot
3/4th cup Finely shredded fresh parmigiana
1 tbs Butter
Salt & Pepper To taste
Extra virgin olive oil
In a large saucepan, add the onions, about two tablespoons onions and a sprinkling of salt. Cook over medium/low heat for about five minutes till translucent.
Add the crushed saffron to the stock and keep it on low so it remains hot throughout the process.
Add the rice and ensure each grain is coated. Lightly toast the rice, stirring for about two minutes.
Add the wine to the pan and cook for one or two minutes until the wine is absorbed.
Add the stock, half a cup/one ladle full at a time, to the rice and continue to gently stir until it is absorbed. Continue this process until the rice is creamy and the grains are firm (just a minute or so past al dente). This is the part you can’t rush!
Once the rice is done, fold in the butter and parmesan cheese.