If there is one thing I love to make is risotto. Give me any ingredient and I’ll think of some way to make it eatable. This does not mean I have perfected the art of making the dish. That’s a completely different story.
Risotto alla milanese, risotto with saffron (zafferano), originates from my home town in Italy, Milano. I have this vivid memory of my grandmother standing by the kitchen stove stirring a pot of risotto with a long, thin wooden spoon. She made me taste it every time. No matter how many times I attempt to master this dish, my risotto still manages to be a dry, dark (which I found out means too much mushroom water) and too salty. A bit of a mess. Without further ado, here is my documented attempt.
I started by soaking dried wild mushrooms for a couple of hours in warm water. If you more time (more than 15 minutes), use cold water and let them soak for about 3 hours. Clean the mushrooms under running water; strain their soaking water and put aside. It’ll come handy once you’ll begin needing liquids to add to the rice.
The dried mushrooms pale in comparison to fresh Porcini mushrooms like these below Francesco’s dad brought home one day a couple of years ago. I mean, can it get any better? Three words: Linghine with Porcini.
After cooking the rice and saffron together for a couple of minutes, add about a cup of good white wine. Add the mushrooms. Let it simmer and begin the arduous task of adding liquid about every 10 minutes.
I typically use vegetable stock, but I know the real Italian recipe calls for either beef or chicken stock. My secret weapon is a pressure cooker: 20 minutes and the risotto is ready!
Il risotto – risotto
I funghi – mushrooms
Lo zafferano – saffron
L’aglio – garlic