RISOTTO MILANESE

EVERYBODY LOVES PASTA.  EVERYBODY COOKS PASTA.  MOST PEOPLE LOVE RISOTTO.  FEW PEOPLE COOK RISOTTO.  WHY IS THAT?  THIS BURNING QUESTION HAS PUZZLED FOOD WRITERS AND GASTRO-HISTORIANS FOR CENTURIES.  YET THE ANSWER IS OBVIOUS:  PRACTICALLY EVERY RECIPE FOR RISOTTO DIRECTS THE COOK TO STAND AT A HOT STOVE, STIRRING AND ADDING INCREMENTAL QUANTITIES OF STOCK UNTIL THE ARBORIO RICE BECOMES PERFECTLY AL DENTE AND FIT TO SERVE.  THIS IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE!  I ONCE ASKED EVAN KLEIMAN, JAMES BEARD WINNER, AUTHOR OF EIGHT VOLUMES ON ITALIAN COOKERY, MODERATOR OF GOOD FOOD ON KCRW, AND FORMER RESTAURANTEUR (TRATTORIA ANGELI AND ANGELI CAFFE) HOW HER RESTAURANT HANDLED RISOTTO ORDERS IF EACH TOOK 40 MINUTES TO PREPARE.  "OH, WE PARTIALLY COOK THE RISOTTOS IN THE MORNING AND SPREAD THEM ON SHEET PANS.  WHEN AN ORDER COMES IN WE SCOOP OUT THE PORTION, PUT IN THE POT AND STIR IN THE LIQUID TO FINISH THE DISH.  TAKES ABOUT TEN MINUTES."  AND THAT IS HOW I'VE COOKED RISOTTO EVER SINCE.  I SWEAT MY VEGETABLES IN A LITTLE OLIVE OIL AND A GENEROUS GLOB OF BUTTER, STIR IN THE RICE, ADDING ABOUT 3 CUPS OF LIQUID.  I STIR IT WITH A WOODEN FORK TO SEPARATE THE GRAINS AND WHEN IT REACHES A BOIL, I TURN OFF THE HEAT AND COVER IT.  WHEN MY GUESTS ARE FINISHING THEIR FIRST COURSE, I RESUME COOKING, ADDING MORE BROTH UNTIL THE RISOTTO IS AL DENTE AND LIQUIDY.  A HUNK OF BUTTER AND A FEW TABLESPOONS OF PARMESAN STOP THE COOKING.  RISOTTO MILANESE IS OSSO BUCO'S CLASSIC ACCOMPANIMENT, BUT WHATEVER RISOTTO YOU CHOOSE TO MAKE (AND THERE AS MANY RISOTTO RECIPES AS THERE ARE RECIPES FOR PASTA) THE TECHNIQUE IS THE SAME.  THERE!  YOU CAN MAKE RISOTTO NOW AT PEACE IN YOUR VERY OWN HOME.

 1 BROWN ONION
 2 MEDIUM LEEKS
 SAFFRON
 1 ½ cups ARBORIO RICE
 1 cup WHITE WINE
 4 cups CHICKEN STOCK
 2 cups BEEF STOCK
 1 cup PARMESAN CHEESE
 PARSLEY OR CHIVES
1

COMBINE CHICKEN AND BEEF STOCKS IN A SAUCEPOT AND BRING TO BOIL, REDUCE TO. SIMMER.

PEEL AND DICE ONION.

TRIM LEEKS, SLICE LENGTHWISE, CLEAN UNDER RUNNING WATER. DICE.

MELT 2 TBSPS BUTTER IN 2 TBSPS OLIVE OIL IN A HEAVY-BOTTOMED SAUCEPAN OR A DUTCH OVEN.

ADD ONION AND LEEKS. REDUCE HEAT TO LOW. COVER AND COOK FOR 2 TO 3 MINUTES OR UNTIL THE ONIONS ARE TRANSLUCENT.

MEANWHILE, GRIND AT LEAST 1 TBSP OF SAFFRON THREADS IN A MORTAR AND PESTLE WITH A PINCH OF SEA SALT.

STIR IN THE RICE AND COOK FOR A MINUTE OR SO, STIRRING UNTIL THE RICE IS WELL-COATED WITH BUTTER.

POUR IN 1 CUP OF WHITE WINE AND CONTINUE STIRRING UNTIL THE WINE HAS NEARLY EVAPORATED.

POUR 1/2 CUP OF STOCK INTO THE MORTAR TO DISSOLVE SAFFRON AND ADD TO THE POT. RINSE OUT ANY REMAINING SAFFRON WITH A SPLASH OF STOCK.

STIR IN 2 MORE CUPS OF STOCK. BRING TO A BOIL. REDUCE TO A SIMMER AND COOK, STIRRING, ON LOW HEAT FOR 2 MINUTES. COVER. TURN OFF HEAT.

NOTE: YOU CAN RELAX NOW AND WAIT TILL YOU'RE READY TO SERVE THE RISOTTO TO FINISH IT. OR, YOU CAN PRESS ON, ADDING MORE STOCK A CUP AT A TIME, ALLOWING THE LIQUID TO ABSORB BEFORE STIRRING IN MORE STOCK.

COMPLETING THE RISOTTO:

BRING THE STOCK BACK TO A SIMMER. STIR 1 CUP INTO THE RISOTTO OVER A LOW FLAME. STIRRING CONTINUOUSLY, ALLOW THE LIQUID TO ABSORB UNTIL YOU ADD MORE.

TASTE THE RISOTTO FOR DONENESS. IT SHOULD BE AL DENTE, JUST A BIT CHEWY.

WHILE THERE'S STILL LIQUID IN THE POT, TURN OFF THE HEAT. STIR IN 2 TBSPS BUTTER AND A CUP OF FRESHLY-GRATED PARMESAN.

GARNISH WITH FRESHLY-CHOPPED PARSLEY OR CHIVES.

SERVES 6-8

Ingredients

 1 BROWN ONION
 2 MEDIUM LEEKS
 SAFFRON
 1 ½ cups ARBORIO RICE
 1 cup WHITE WINE
 4 cups CHICKEN STOCK
 2 cups BEEF STOCK
 1 cup PARMESAN CHEESE
 PARSLEY OR CHIVES

Directions

1

COMBINE CHICKEN AND BEEF STOCKS IN A SAUCEPOT AND BRING TO BOIL, REDUCE TO. SIMMER.

PEEL AND DICE ONION.

TRIM LEEKS, SLICE LENGTHWISE, CLEAN UNDER RUNNING WATER. DICE.

MELT 2 TBSPS BUTTER IN 2 TBSPS OLIVE OIL IN A HEAVY-BOTTOMED SAUCEPAN OR A DUTCH OVEN.

ADD ONION AND LEEKS. REDUCE HEAT TO LOW. COVER AND COOK FOR 2 TO 3 MINUTES OR UNTIL THE ONIONS ARE TRANSLUCENT.

MEANWHILE, GRIND AT LEAST 1 TBSP OF SAFFRON THREADS IN A MORTAR AND PESTLE WITH A PINCH OF SEA SALT.

STIR IN THE RICE AND COOK FOR A MINUTE OR SO, STIRRING UNTIL THE RICE IS WELL-COATED WITH BUTTER.

POUR IN 1 CUP OF WHITE WINE AND CONTINUE STIRRING UNTIL THE WINE HAS NEARLY EVAPORATED.

POUR 1/2 CUP OF STOCK INTO THE MORTAR TO DISSOLVE SAFFRON AND ADD TO THE POT. RINSE OUT ANY REMAINING SAFFRON WITH A SPLASH OF STOCK.

STIR IN 2 MORE CUPS OF STOCK. BRING TO A BOIL. REDUCE TO A SIMMER AND COOK, STIRRING, ON LOW HEAT FOR 2 MINUTES. COVER. TURN OFF HEAT.

NOTE: YOU CAN RELAX NOW AND WAIT TILL YOU'RE READY TO SERVE THE RISOTTO TO FINISH IT. OR, YOU CAN PRESS ON, ADDING MORE STOCK A CUP AT A TIME, ALLOWING THE LIQUID TO ABSORB BEFORE STIRRING IN MORE STOCK.

COMPLETING THE RISOTTO:

BRING THE STOCK BACK TO A SIMMER. STIR 1 CUP INTO THE RISOTTO OVER A LOW FLAME. STIRRING CONTINUOUSLY, ALLOW THE LIQUID TO ABSORB UNTIL YOU ADD MORE.

TASTE THE RISOTTO FOR DONENESS. IT SHOULD BE AL DENTE, JUST A BIT CHEWY.

WHILE THERE'S STILL LIQUID IN THE POT, TURN OFF THE HEAT. STIR IN 2 TBSPS BUTTER AND A CUP OF FRESHLY-GRATED PARMESAN.

GARNISH WITH FRESHLY-CHOPPED PARSLEY OR CHIVES.

SERVES 6-8

RISOTTO MILANESE
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