Risotto alla Milanese – The Real Deal

Risotto alla MilaneseRisotto alla Milanese is one of Italy’s most famous dishes. I once was at a dinner party where someone started playing that silly game in which you name what you’d request as your last meal on this earth. An Italian friend of mine responded without hesitation – Risotto alla Milanese.

There are plenty of restaurants that make this famous dish, but few include what is perhaps the most important ingredient: beef bone marrow. Your can buy beef marrow bones at good butcher shops. Ask them to be cut in half lengthwise.

This recipe serves 4 as a first course, or as a bed under Osso Buco or braised short ribs.

Ingredients and Directions:

  • 1 beef marrow bone sawed lengthwise by your butcher
  • 1 onion, medium dice
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 6 cups or more good-quality chicken stock, preferably home-made
  • 2 pinches good saffron
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Finely chopped parsley as a garnish
  • Salt and pepper

Special Equipment:

  • Large heavy-bottomed pot
  1. Choose a container or pot big enough to hold the marrow bones – perhaps a Pyrex dish. Add warm water and then the bones. Let them sit for about 10 minutes to loosen up the marrow.
  2. Take a teaspoon and remove the marrow and place in the pot where you plan to make the risotto.
  3. Meanwhile, place the chicken stock in another pot and warm to a simmer. Add the saffron and allow the broth / saffron mixture to steep like a tea, still on simmer. The broth should turn “electric yellow/orange”. Season the broth with salt. This will be the main source of salt for the dish. Keep the stock simmering.
  4. Place the risotto pot containing the softened bone marrow over medium-low heat and gently melt the marrow. This will take about 10 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to stir and break up the marrow. You may end up with a few crispy bits in the melted fat. That’s OK, just leave them but break them up a bit.
  5. Add the chopped onions and stir until they are soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the Arborio rice and stir occasionally until the rice turns a little translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and stir until it is mostly evaporated.
  6. Now begin a cycle of adding a small ladle of hot broth and stirring the risotto until it’s almost completely absorbed by the rice. This will take about 30 minutes. The rice will release a lot of starch and be creamy but a little “al dente”. Be sure to taste it along the way. If you run short of stock, add some water or better yet the water you warmed the beef bones in. Remember to keep the stock hot.
  7. Finally, add the cheese, butter and a couple of grinds of pepper. Stir until the butter and cheese melt. Serve with a little parsley as garnish.

Join the Conversation

  1. Rosanna butta says:

    Don’t eat meat, substitute?

    1. Joe Author says:

      Sorry for the delay. Just leave the bone marrow out. You might put a little more butter in at the end! Joe

  2. Hi Joe — I hate to be stuck in front of the stove during the “cocktail” course — can I do the risotto ahead of time and reheat? Thanks! Love your recipes!

    1. Joe Author says:

      That’s complicated. I’ve heard restaurants “par cook” the risotto half way and spread it out on sheet trays to cool and then cook it the rest of the way right before serving. That’s how they bring it out in less than 30 mins. Sounds like a “google” project to me! Thanks for your comment. Joe

  3. do it in the oven. Ina Garten has a good method

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