Risotto alla Milanese


Nicknamed ‘gold on the table’, risotto alla milanese (trans. ‘risotto Milanese style’) is the traditional symbol of the Lombard cuisine, the region of the city of Milan. How tragic, then, that this very recipe is slowly disappearing. As a matter of fact, if you ask actual Milanese people what this plate is like … they’ll almost always tell you that it is merely a saffron risotto – sorely missing the point of the historic recipe. In reality, real risotto alla milanese does have saffron from the nearby Vercelli province – but that is just one among many ingredients, and limiting yourself to that admittedly tasty spice is a bit like getting excited for a pizza without sauce and mozzarella cheese. But don’t worry: we are here to keep the traditions of Italy alive, and what you will find below is the complete, uncensored recipe of the real thing.


500 g of Vialone or Carnaroli rice

70 g of white onions

80 g of butter

70 g of Grana Padano cheese

50 g of bone marrow

100 ml of white wine

Saffron about 1 sachet

Saffron pistils – one pinch

120 ml of broth



The first phase of this recipe is also the most complicated, as the risotto alla milanese is traditionally eaten with ossobuco, which is a sliced veal shank about 2.5 centimeters high. You are supposed to get the meat stock and the bone marrow from the preparation of the ossobuco – but that is another, quite time consuming recipe. If you are only looking for a quick and risotto, your best bet is to ask your local butcher for the marrow and to just use stock cubes to make a very hearty broth. Chop the onion thinly. Melt half the butter in a pan, being careful not to fry it, then add the onion and the marrow and stir with a wooden spoon until you get a fine, blond paste. Add the rice and toast it until all the butter has been soaked up, then raise the flame, add the wine and stir until it has completely evaporated. Now it’s time for the stock: add two spoonfuls of boiling broth, stir until it is completely absorbed, then repeat until you are out of stock.

While you are doing this, take about half a glass of broth and dissolve the saffron powder into it. This must be added to the risotto in the next-to-last round of stock, making sure that everything is completely amalgamated. When the rice is ready, get the pan away from the fire, add the remaining butter and sprinkle the risotto with the cheese – then stir like there is no tomorrow, until every ingredient is uniformly blended with the others. Your risotto alla milanese is ready! Let it rest for a few minutes, decorate it with the saffron pistils and serve.