Risotto alla milanese – Milanese risotto bit of history

Risotto alla milanese
From the Duomo roof – Photo © Javier

Risotto alla milanese: The dish is said to have originated in 1535, when Charles V made his son Philip duke of Milan, beginning what was to be nearly two centuries of Spanish rule. Saffron added to the rice turns it a deep yellow and adds a subtle yet pungent flavor.

Bone marrow is essential for a good risotto alla milanese. Many butchers give it away for nothing. You can freeze the marrow in small quantities and use it as you need for risotto.

The rice for risotto alla milanese should be Italian superfine Arborio rice, or, better, Carnaroli rice, slightly moist and al dente when done. The rice will continue to cook after it has been removed from the flame, so be ready to add the butter and freshly grated Parmesan cheese immediately.

The entire process of cooking the risotto takes roughly 45 minutes and requires your full attention.

In Italy, we say “Il riso nasce nell’acqua e muore nel vino,” meaning rice is born in water and dies in wine, so, in addition to the wine used for cooking it,  have a good dry white wine ready to serve with the risotto.

Risotto recipes:

Risotto milanese
Risotto con la zucca
Risotto con tartufi

Castello Sforzesco – Sforza Castle – AdobeStock_181911241
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Milan is Italy’s city of the future, a fast-paced metropolis where money talks, creativity is big business and looking good is an art form.

Cultural Legacy

Ruled by the Caesars, Napoléon, the Austro-Hungarians and Mussolini, Milan has an ancient and fascinating history. After the unification of Italy in 1861, it also became an important industrial and cultural centre – a title it still holds today. While it may not have the historic attractions of other Italian cities, it holds its own with art collections old and new, which mark the genius of old masters and provoke new conversations about where the world is headed. Prestigious nights at La Scala, illustrious literary heritage and a vibrant music scene also do much to debunk the city’s workaholic image.

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Since Leonardo da Vinci broke all the rules in his stunning Last Supper, the indefatigably inventive Milanese seem to have skipped straight from the Renaissance to the 1900s. Not only is Milan a treasure trove of 20th-century art, but art deco and rationalist architecture abound. Today the city leads the way with the largest post-war re-development in Italy, impressive, sustainable architecture and a futuristic skyline modeled by Zaha Hadid, Daniel Libeskind, and César Pelli. The city is also burgeoning into a hi-tech hub, home to start-ups galore and the likes of Google, Microsoft, Alibaba, and Apple.

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Though Italian design is world-renowned, its roots lie in 1930s Milan – seeing it in a home context offers a fresh appreciation. A visit to the Triennale design museum is a wonderful way to pay homage to the work of Italy’s best and brightest. In addition, Milan is home to all the major design showrooms and an endless round of trade fairs, including Salone Internazionale del Mobile and its ever-popular sidekick the free Fuorisalone. Italian fashion houses are also branching out into spas, bars, hotels, galleries and cultural centers all over Milan, which means you can get your style fix pretty much everywhere.

Buon Appetito

Cucina povera (poor man’s cuisine) may be the cry of the south, but Milanese cooking is the product of a rich urban culture. Just note the golden hue of its quintessential dishes: cotoletta (burnished, buttery veal) and saffron risotto. It was in powerful commercial cities such as Milan that some of Italy’s great cuisines were born, marrying Mediterranean fruits, spices and herbs with cooking methods, pastry techniques and eating styles from France and central Europe. Even today Milan continues to push Italy’s culinary boundaries, making sushi and dim sum its own, and holding the highest number of Michelin stars in the country.

Where to stay in Milan

More destinations in Milan’s Lombardia Region

William Dellorusso
Lombardia in Cucina: The Flavours of Lombardy

Milan-style risotto, pizzoccheri Valtellinesi, and pumpkin tortelli to start; casoeula, Milan-style cutlets, frogs stewed in tomato to follow, and to send, a slice of sbrisolona cake or panettone.
Lombardy surprises with the richness of its culinary traditions and natural ingredients, which modernity has barely affected.
"Milano in Cucina" captures this kaleidoscope of flavours, with contributions from some of the most celebrated chefs on the culinary scene, who pay homage to their territory, and whose skill is able to present a modern vision in keeping with the region's progressive spirit.

The Italian Academy of Cuisine
La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy

Fifty years ago, a group of Italian scholars gathered to discuss a problem: how to preserve traditional Italian cooking. They formed the Italian Academy of Cuisine to document classic recipes from every region. The academy’s more than seven thousand associates spread out to villages everywhere, interviewing grandmothers and farmers at their stoves, transcribing their recipes—many of which had never been documented before. This is the culmination of that research, an astounding feat—2,000 recipes that represent the patrimony of Italian country cooking. Each recipe is labeled with its region of origin, and it’s not just the ingredients but also the techniques that change with the geography. Sprinkled throughout are historical recipes that provide fascinating views into the folk culture of the past. There are no fancy flourishes here, and no shortcuts; this is true salt-of-the-earth cooking. The book is an excellent everyday source for easily achievable recipes, with such simple dishes as White Bean and Escarole Soup, Polenta with Tomato Sauce, and Chicken with Lemon and Capers. For ease of use there are four different indexes. La Cucina is an essential reference for every cook’s library.

Milano in Cucina: The Flavours of Milan
The famous Risotto Alla Milanese gets its golden hue from the precious spice saffron. Legend has it that the dish came about when a Milanese painter decided to gild the risotto served at his wedding banquet with a harmless gold-colored dye. In Milan, they traditionally serve Risotto Alla Milanese with ossobuco (braised veal shank).
Traditionally made with raisins and candied citron, or with a creamy cream filling, the light, fluffy brioche-like bread called panettone may be tall or short, covered with chocolate or flavored with various liquors, but it’s always a symbol of the Christmas season.
With its hallmark domed shape, panettone graced Christmas tables in Milan since at least the 15th-century. Common knowledge claims its invention is from Milan. It is the most famous Christmas Lombardia food.

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