This iconic dish features basic risotto seasoned with saffron. As with the best simple recipes, quality ingredients make all the difference. This makes a filling, flavorful side for roast chicken or pork or braised veal shanks (osso buco). Make sure to use saffron threads rather than lesser-quality saffron powder.
Heat stock in a small saucepan over medium-high until simmering; reduce heat to low, and cover to keep warm.
Heat oil in a medium saucepan or Dutch oven over medium. Add onion; cook, stirring often, until tender and translucent but not browned, about 7 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high. Add rice, and cook, stirring occasionally, until toasted, about 2 minutes. Add wine and saffron; cook, stirring often, until liquid is almost completely evaporated, about 3 minutes.
Add 1 cup of hot stock, and cook, stirring constantly, until liquid is almost absorbed. Repeat procedure 2 times. Add up to remaining 1/2 cup stock, and cook, stirring constantly, until rice is al dente. (Total cooking time is about 22 minutes.) Remove from heat. Add cheese, butter, salt, and pepper; stir until fully incorporated. Serve immediately.
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