Risotto alla Milanese


Risotto alla Milanese is a classic dish from the Lombardy region of northern Italy. The dish is said to have come about in the mid-1800s, when a team of glassmakers took some of the saffron they were using to color the stained glass windows in Milan's Duomo cathedral and added it to the risotto being served at dinner. What started as a prank became one of the most iconic Italian plates. This version hews to the original. It's important to use warm stock to cook the rice and add it slowly; it's worth the effort.

Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
30 mins
6 servings


  • 5 1/2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice (10 ounces)

  • Pinch of saffron threads

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley


  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a simmer; keep warm. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook for 1 minute, stirring to thoroughly coat.

  2. Crumble the saffron into the wine and add it to the rice. Cook, stirring, until the wine is absorbed. Add 1 cup of the warm stock and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until nearly absorbed. Continue adding the stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly, until it is nearly absorbed between additions.

  3. The risotto is done when the rice is al dente and suspended in a thick, creamy sauce, about 20 minutes total. Season the risotto with salt and pepper. Stir in the cheese, butter, and parsley and serve immediately.

    Milanese Risotto
    © Frances Janisch

Suggested Pairing

Earthy, medium-bodied Italian red.

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