Risotto alla milanese
Italian comfort food: a dish of saffron-scented risotto. This is MotH's specialty because he is the risotto king in our kitchen. Being from Milan's suburbs puts the Man of the House right behind the apron, and what's more to say except that it's nice to have someone else do the cooking...sometimes. There is no "who cooks best" between us, but rather a 'who is more qualified to cook a certain dish'. This risotto is just one of those foods.
Now normally when he cooks this milan-style risotto, it's without the traditional beef marrow or midollo (mee-DOH-loh). Labeled as soup bones instead of marrow, the small cuts pictured below were such a steal at .54 euro cents that I couldn't pass them up. I figured that out of the 8 ounces in total weight, a fair amount of fatty globule yumminess could be scraped from the bones. Yep this is a high-cal dish. An online italian calorie chart indicated that there are 25 calories in 3 grams of marrow. We scooped out 26 grams (almost an ounce/216 calories).
MotH's style of cooking risotto is very casual, which means the only thing he measures is the rice. His demeanor and pace makes the whole process look like creating art — such a huge contrast to my go get'um adventurous style. On this occasion I did a generous ingredient prep and estimated the amounts he used by what was left over. Making any type of risotto becomes easy once you get the "feel" of it, and by that I mean the creamy, sumptuous flow at the final stage. One observance I noticed is that MotH (and also his mom) begins with a stock that is already well-flavored/salted. He does not adjust for taste at the end. As long as you've got quality rice and a decent stock, you're on your way to risotto greatness.
Risotto alla milanese x due (for two)
2¾ cups well-flavored beef or chicken stock or broth
1 cup (200 grams) risotto rice, we use carnaroli
1/3 cup finely chopped white onions
1 oz. beef marrow
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 packet powdered saffron
1/3 cup grated parmigiano
Place the stock over a low flame and keep hot. Over medium heat, saute the onions and marrow in a tablespoon or two of butter until fragrant and soft. Do not allow the onions to brown. Add the rice; stir until thoroughly coated with the fat. Pour in the wine and cook, stirring, on a low simmer until absorbed. Now add the stock, one ladleful at a time, making sure that the liquid is absorbed before adding the next ladle. Continue stirring frequently, but do not add all of the stock. At about 15 minutes, check for doneness by taking a bite test. It takes about 18-20 minutes total cooking time for us but this can vary depending on rice and if your stock was kept hot enough (cold stock is a no-no!). If the grains are still too firm, add a little more stock (an extra 1/4 cup is included in the amount given), keeping in mind that the final consistency should not be soupy, but just a little bit liquid and binding.
Add in the saffron powder just before the rice is almost done; stir to combine well. When the risotto's time is up, turn off the heat and add a tablespoon of butter and the cheese. Stir until incorporated and portion onto individual plates. Serve hot.