Saffron risotto



Saffron risotto

Saffron is an ancient spice, already known in Egyptian times. At first it was only used to dye fabrics and make perfumes and ointments, but once its amazing culinary properties were discovered, it became a precious ingredient with which to make tasty dishes with golden hues, such as saffron risotto or pasta. This first course, in its simplicity, best enhances the aromatic qualities of saffron. But that's not all: with its strong coloring power, the grains of rice take on an inviting golden color that makes this dish so special. A little magic that, combined with the creamy touch of the final stirring technique, inevitable in the preparation of risottos, will result in a dish with a unique and unmistakable taste. And to make this dish even more captivating, you will be helped by Greek mythology that tells the legendary and hampered love relationship of the young Crocus, the seductive nymph Smilax, and the god Hermes, who, blinded by jealousy, transformed Crocus into a delicate saffron flower.


Saffron threads 1 tsp
Carnaroli rice 1.6 cups (320 g)
Butter ½ cup (125 g)
Onions 1
Grana Padano PDO cheese 1 cup (80 g) - to be grated
White wine ¼ cup (40 g)
Water to taste
Vegetable broth 1 quart (1 l)
Fine salt to taste
For garnishing
Saffron threads to taste

How to prepare Saffron risotto

To make the saffron risotto, first put the threads in a small glass, pour just enough water 1 to cover them completely, stir 2 and leave to infuse overnight, this way they will release all their color. Next, prepare the vegetable stock. For this recipe you will need one quart. Peel and finely chop the onion 3 so it will dissolve while being cooked and not be detected when tasting the risotto.

In a large saucepan pour 1/4 cup (50 g) of butter from the total amount for this recipe 4, melt it over low heat, then add the chopped onion 5 and let it stew for 10-15 minutes, adding some broth to avoid drying the sauté 6: the onion must be transparent and soft.

Once the onion is stewed, pour in the rice 7 and toast it for 3-4 minutes, so that the grains will seal and keep cooking well. Sweat with the white wine 8 and let it evaporate completely. Now proceed with cooking for about 18-20 minutes, adding the stock one ladle at a time, as needed, as it is absorbed by the rice 9: the grains must always be covered by stock.

Five minutes before the cooking time is up, pour the water with the previously infused saffron threads 10, stir to flavor and dye the risotto to a nice golden color. Once cooked, turn off the heat, add salt 11, stir in the grated cheese and the remaining 1/3 cup (75 g) of butter 12.

Stir and cover with a lid 13. Let it rest for a couple of minutes. At this point, the saffron risotto is ready 14, garnish the dish with a few more saffron threads, and serve the risotto hot 15.


Keep the saffron risotto, closed in an airtight container in the fridge, for up to two days. Freezing is not recommended.


The wine you add to the rice must be at room temperature, while the broth must always be boiling when added so as not to slow down the cooking process. Saffron risotto lends itself to be combined with many dishes: in addition to the typical combination with traditional Milanese ossobuco (cross-cut veal shanks), it is also excellent with mushrooms, generally porcini mushrooms, sausages, and scampi and other seafood as well.

Interesting fact

Saffron is the name given to the three saffron threads (more correctly called stigmas) of a delicate wisteria-colored crocus flower, meticulously collected by hand. This explains why it is a rather expensive product, also called "red gold". The subtle threads with their pungent perfume and characteristic carmine color in infusion will release with all their intensity a unique flavor and color, a little magic that has always fascinated the people who have used this precious spice, so much that it is considered the "king of spices".