Risotto Sardo allo Zafferano

Sardinian Saffron Risotto


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Italian Regional Cookbook

The Italian Regional Cookbook

By Valentina Harris

Published 2017

  • About

This unusual risotto is from Sardinia, where small quantities of rice are grown, which means that risotto should form part of the local menu, however it does not usually appear, despite this very traditional recipe. Saffron also grows on this beautiful island, although, disappointingly, it seldom appears in the island’s repertoire of recipes. On the occasions that it does, such as in this intensely flavoured and coloured dish, it really is superb. This is the only region of Italy that I know of where saffron is used in threads instead of powder.


  • 300 g/11 oz ripe tomatoes
  • 75 g/3 oz pork dripping, lard or white cooking fat or pork belly
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 300 g/11 oz pork, such as hand or shoulder, finely cubed
  • 90 ml/6 tbsp dry white wine
  • a pinch of saffron threads, soaked in a little warm water
  • 1.5 litres/2 ½ pints/6 ¼ cups pork stock, simmering
  • 500 g/1 ¼ lb/scant 3 cups risotto rice, such as arborio, carnaroli or vialone nano
  • 50 g/2 oz/ cup freshly grated pecorino cheese, plus extra to serve
  • sea salt and ground black pepper


  1. Plunge the tomatoes into a bowl of boiling water for 30 seconds, then refresh them in cold water. Peel away the skins and chop them roughly. Set aside.
  2. Heat the pork dripping, lard or white cooking fat or pork belly in a pan, add the chopped onion and fry over a low heat for 10 minutes or until soft.
  3. Add the pork cubes. Cook together for 10 minutes, adding the wine a little at a time, until the pork is browned all over. Add the peeled, chopped tomatoes to the pan and mix everything together thoroughly. Pour in the saffron and its soaking water. Continue to simmer gently, adding a little stock from time to time as necessary to keep it moist, for 20-30 minutes, or until the pork is falling into shreds.

  4. Add the rice and stir until all the grains are coated with the liquid and are very hot. Add a ladleful of stock and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid has been absorbed into the rice.

  5. Add more hot stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring continuously and allowing each ladleful of liquid to be absorbed before adding more each time. Continue in this way until the rice is cooked - it should be creamy and velvety, but the grains of rice should still be firm to the bite.
  6. Season the risotto with salt and ground black pepper, then remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the pecorino cheese and cover the pan with a lid. Allow the risotto to rest, covered, for 2-3 minutes, then stir it again. Serve the risotto immediately, in warmed bowls, sprinkled with extra pecorino cheese and some ground black pepper.