Risotto alla milanese

This dish is a monument of my city Milan. We serve it with Ossobuco, we make it fried, we serve it plain. We – Love – Risotto. And the history behind it is very wholesome. There’s a testimony from 1574 in a manuscript held in Biblioteca Trivulziana, inside Castello Sforzesco (the big castle in the city center of Milan). A master glassmaker was working on the windows with his apprentice, Zafferano, a nickname given to him from his habit of adding saffron to colors to make them brighter. On the day of the master’s daughter’s wedding, his addiction to the spice brought him to commit a fortunate experiment: he managed to add the spice to the classic butter risotto. Not only the plate turned out to be the color of gold, but it also tasted wonderful. And this, my friend, is the most accredited legend behind Risotto alla Milanese. To this day it is the city’s most loved side and a main dish. It originated during a wedding 449 years ago…isn’t this so cute? Sigh…I also want to have such a story for my wedding.

Now, let’s get in the kitchen to make it.

Risotto alla milanese

Nicole Vittoria
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes


  • 320 gr Carnaroli or Arborio rice
  • 30 gr butter
  • 30 gr bone marrow
  • 2 lt meat broth
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 5 gr saffron pistils
  • Granda Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano


  • In a pan gently stir-fry the onions with the butter and bone marrow until it turns translucent. If you can’t find the bone marrow replace it with the same quantity of butter. However, I encourage you to try it at least once because it’s an explosion of flavor.
  • Add the rice and toast it for a couple of minutes. This step is crucial to help the grains release the starch, which will make the risotto super creamy and super Sexy, as my friend Angelo would say. 
  • At this point, some people like to add a glass of white wine and let it evaporate. I don’t because it covers the soft taste of the saffron but I’m giving you an excuse to make this dish twice to test whether you like the acidity of it or not. Let me know over on my IG what version won! You know I’m a curious cat. 
  • Raise the temperature and add the hot broth, one ladle at a time. You can see the process in the video recipe on my social media.
    It will take about 15/20 minutes of stirring and adding broth every time it’s absorbed. There are no shortcuts here babe (unfortunately). Take this as a moment of reflection: how are you? What has been bothering you lately that you can work on? This is what I do while cooking. In a way, it’s my own therapy session.
  • If you are using saffron pistils: after approx 10 minutes of working the risotto, add the saffron that you previously tempered in a cup with hot broth. 
    If you’re using saffron powder: melt it in a cup with hot broth and add it at the very end to avoid losing the delicate flavor of saffron. 
  • Once the rice is cooked add a knob of cold butter and the grated Grana Padano (or Parmigiano Reggiano) and mix energetically to “mantecare” the rice (a process that incorporates the fat parts to make the rice even creamier). 
  • Now enjoy and as always, Buon Appetitooooo

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