Risotto Milanese

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves:


    as a side dish

Appears in

I have known Lorna Sass, author of several excellent cookbooks, for over twenty years, in fact since before either of us was involved with food as a profession.

When Lorna sent me her cookbook Cooking Under Pressure (William Morrow, 1989), she included a little note saying: “Be sure to try the risotto.” Yes! The pressure cooker is the ideal way to make pearly risotto with a creamy- firm texture. Using the pressure cooker means nine minutes of cooking without stirring as opposed to twenty to thirty minutes with constant stirring, and the results are perfect. Since risotto is too wonderful to miss, here are both methods.

volume ounces grams
saffron threads teaspoon
salt ½ teaspoon, plus more to taste*
low-salt chicken broth liquid cups
olive oil 2 teaspoons 0.25 ounce 9 grams
unsalted butter, divided 4 teaspoons 0.66 ounce 19 grams
shallots, minced, or onions, minced 1 tablespoon

2 tablespoons

0.25 ounce

0.6 ounce

9 grams

18 grams

Arborio rice 1 cup 6.75 ounces 190 grams
vermouth or dry white wine ¼ liquid cup
pepper, freshly ground to taste
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated ¼ cup 0.5 ounce 14 grams
OPTIONAL: grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

*Omit the salt if using salted broth.

Or 3 cubes Glace de Volaille, dissolved in cups boiling water.

If not using a pressure cooker, you will need 3 cups broth plus cup water.


Chop the saffron threads into small pieces. Add the saffron and salt to the chicken broth. (If you are not using a pressure cooker, heat the broth and water and keep covered to prevent evaporation.)

In a pressure cooker or a medium-size saucepan over medium-low heat, heat the oil with 2 teaspoons of the butter. Sauté the shallots, stirring often, for about a minute or until translucent. Add the rice and sauté, stirring constantly to coat the rice with the oil, for about 2 minutes or until lightly glazed. Stir in the vermouth (most of it will evaporate).

If using a pressure cooker, add the broth. Lock the lid in place and over high heat, bring the pressure to high. Lower the heat but maintain high pressure. Cook for 9 minutes. Place the pressure cooker in the sink and run cold water over the lid until the pressure is released. Open the lid away from your face to avoid any steam. A little liquid will still be visible. Use a wooden spoon to stir it into the rice, scraping to release any grains that may have stuck to the bottom. (If not using a pressure cooker, add the hot broth about cup at a time, and cook, stirring frequently, until each addition has been absorbed before adding more. You may not need all the liquid, or you may need slightly more. When done, the rice should be creamy and tender but with still a little bite. A grain cut in half will be opaque in the center.)

Sprinkle the rice with the pepper. Add the ¼ cup of grated cheese and the remaining 2 teaspoons of butter and stir until blended. Add salt to taste. Serve at once. (If you need to hold the rice for a short period of time, cover it and set it aside before adding the pepper, cheese, butter and salt.)

Pass extra grated Parmesan if desired.

NOTE: One of my favorite special additions to risotto is a small amount of poached marrow cut into ¼-inch pieces and served on top of each portion. The heat of the risotto will soften the marrow. To prepare the marrow, purchase beef bones, preferably from the shin. Run a skewer around the marrow to release it from the bone and push the marrow out in one piece. Place the marrow in a bowl of lightly salted cold water and refrigerate it overnight to remove the blood. Drain the marrow and cut it into ¼-inch slices. Poach it in lightly salted water for 3 minutes or until translucent and soft. Be careful not to overcook the marrow or it will melt completely. Drain and set aside.

To serve this risotto as a fabulous appetizer during white truffle season (November to December), shave thin slices of truffle over each portion.

The design of pressure cookers has improved vastly since my first one, which had been a wedding present to my mother in the 1940s and which she had always been afraid to use. My two favorite models are manufactured by Cuisinarts and Kuhn-Rikkon.