Risotto Milanese is a sacred risotto in Milan, and, as much as chefs generally like to change and create, with this recipe Italian chefs usually stick to tradition. It can be served by itself or with the ossobuco that was served at Felidia for our first ten years; still people ask for it. It was originally served with a long, thin marrow knife to remove the succulent marrow from the bone. For those who love Milan or have always wanted to visit that dynamic city, this dish will make you think you are there. It’s Italian comfort food.
For the bone marrow, ask your butcher to get you some from veal bones, or to cut the femur bone into 2-inch pieces. Then, with a little knife, you can scoop around the marrow and pull it out. Keep the marrow chilled until you are ready to use it. The remaining bones are good for making stock.
- 8 cups homemade beef stock or canned low-sodium beef broth
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup minced onion
- 1/2 cup minced shallots
- 2 cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- Kosher salt
- 2 ounces beef marrow, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (optional)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Grana Padano
Warm the stock in a medium saucepan over low heat. Put the saffron in a small bowl, and ladle 1/2 cup hot stock over it.
Heat a shallow Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion and shallots, and cook, stirring, until tender and almost golden, about 8 minutes. Add the rice, and toss to coat in the oil. Cook until the edges of the rice are translucent, about 2 minutes.
Pour in the wine. Cook and stir until absorbed. Ladle in enough stock just to cover the rice. Adjust the heat so the risotto is simmering, and cook, stirring constantly, until all the liquid has been absorbed. Continue to add hot stock in small batches (just enough to moisten the rice completely) and cook until each successive batch has been absorbed, stirring constantly, until the rice mixture is creamy but still al dente, about 18 minutes total. Add the saffron and soaking liquid about 10 minutes after you start simmering the rice. Season with salt.
Stir in the marrow, if using. Off heat, beat in the butter in teaspoon-size pieces, a few at a time until incorporated, add the grated cheese and mix until creamy, and serve immediately in shallow bowls.