In Le Ricette Regionali Italiane (Solares, 1967), which contains the recipe on which this one is based, the food historian Anna Gosetti della Salda points out that the original formula for butter-rich risotto alla milanese is a subject of dispute. Some say wine was a key ingredient, others question whether saffron has always been included, but few dispute that you should saute the rice before adding liquid and stir in extra butter at the end.
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1⁄8 tsp. saffron threads
- 9 tbsp. unsalted butter (like Delitia Parmigiano Reggiano "II Burro")
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cups vialone or arborio rice
- 1 cup grated grana padano
Bring stock to a bare simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. Put saffron and 1⁄2 cup hot stock into a small bowl; cover and set aside to let soften. Cover stock; keep hot.
Heat 5 tbsp. butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Add onions; cook, stirring, until softened, 2–3 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until opaque, about 4 minutes.
Add 1⁄2 cup stock; cook, stirring often, until stock is mostly absorbed, 2–3 minutes. Add another 1⁄2 cup stock; repeat process until all the stock is used, about 25 minutes total. Continue cooking rice until just al dente, about 3 minutes more. Strain saffron from stock over a bowl; set saffron aside. Pour saffron-infused stock into rice and cook, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Gently stir in saffron threads. Remove from heat; stir in remaining butter and half the grated cheese. Serve risotto with remaining cheese on the side.