Risotto is a northern Italian dish and this particular risotto Milanese is an example of culinary tradition of the city of Milan. The story behind this very old recipe that goes back some four hundred years is that while an artist was preparing the dye to color the window glass of the cathedral beautiful gold color his apprentice dropped some saffron powder into the near by pan of rice and that is how Risotto Milanese or saffron risotto with parmesan was created.

The story is pretty neat and the risotto gets its bright, beautiful color and intense flavor from saffron.

Saffron is really completely intoxicating and addictive herb. It has a very subtle flavor and aroma that is floral, almost like honey. The flavor is hard to describe. But if you’re going for authenticity in risotto Milanese you’ve got to have saffron. There’s really no substitute for its flavor.

Risotto is distinct vivid golden yellow color and subtle savory taste. The dish is simplicity at its best. The technique of cooking the risotto is the same as with basic parmesan risotto with just an addition of saffron. Rice is slowly simmered in broth while being frequently stirred, the aromatic base of shallot and wine help building the flavors. Parmesan cheese and butter are added in the end and the rice is stirred vigorously to release starches from the special short-grain, high-starch risotto rice.

This risotto Milanese is a pretty and appetizing dish that is also very easy to make with just a few ingredients.