Risotto with Saffron

Risotto alla Milanese

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


    as a main course

Appears in

How to Cook Italian

How to Cook Italian

By Giuliano Hazan

Published 2005

  • About

It is rare that risotto is served with the meat course instead of by itself as a first course. This risotto, however, is traditionally paired with the ossobuchi. If you do serve them together, have the ossobuchi ready before you start the risotto so that you can serve as soon as the risotto is ready. An essential ingredient, which gives it its characteristic richness, is beef marrow. Ask your butcher or meat department for beef marrow bones.


  • 6 cups homemade meat broth or ½ each beef and chicken bouillon cube dissolved in 6 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon saffron strands or powder
  • ½ small yellow onion
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 ounces beef marrow, from about 3 1½-inch marrow bones
  • cups rice for risotto (Arborio, Carnaroli, or Vialone Nano)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


  1. Put the broth in a pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to maintain a very gentle simmer. If using saffron strands, finely chop them and put them in a small bowl with ½ cup of the hot broth; set aside.
  2. Peel and finely chop the onion. Put it in a heavy-bottomed braising pan with 2 tablespoons of the butter. Place over medium-high heat and sauté until it turns a dark golden color, about 5 minutes.
  3. While the onion is sautéing, scoop the marrow from the bones and cut it into ¼-inch dice. When the onion is done, add the chopped marrow and sauté for 1 minute.
  4. Add the rice and stir until it is well coated. Add about 1 cup of the hot broth and continue stirring. Add only enough broth to produce the consistency of a rather thick soup and wait until all the liquid is absorbed before adding more. After the rice has cooked for 15 minutes, add the saffron and season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking until the rice is al dente, 5 to 10 minutes more.
  5. Remove the risotto from the heat and stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and the Parmigiano. Serve at once.