One of our favorite Italian dishes is the iconic Saffron Risotto. Heartwarming, full of flavor, with its unmistakable scent, is the perfect meal to enjoy accompanied with a great glass of wine all year round. Saffron Risotto is one of Chef Daniele’s specialties as it the most iconic recipe from his birthplace, Milan. I Love spices of all kinds, so when I discovered that just a step away from us there was an organic saffron production, it was game on!
Cooking risotto it’s quite straightforward, however, the most important ingredients are patience and time. Well, we should have enough of those during the quarantine.
Andiamo, follow our recipe and have fun!
Pasta would be Italy’s most famous first course, but rice is equally key to Italian cuisine, especially in the northern region of Lombardy. During the Renaissance, the swamps near Milano were turned into rice paddies, and rice has played a starring role ever since.
Carnaroli rice is considered the best rice (qualitative speaking) in Italy. Not a risotto rice, but THE risotto rice. Being more compact, less sticky and resistant to pulping, if you eat it after half-hour it is still perfectly “Al Dente” and if you leave it on the fire a couple of extra minutes, it doesn’t overcook. Another excellence of Italian cuisine.
GIULIA’S SAFFRON – the Red Gold Spice
Francesco and Giulia, brother and sister, run La Fonte Azienda Agricola: A winery, a farmhouse and an organic saffron production in their family land in Bevagna, right in the heart of the Umbria valley.
Giulia, a young graduate in agriculture, rediscovered the potential of this magnificent plant and decided to embark on this adventure all by herself.
Saffron is one of the most precious and ancient spices in the world.
In the early days, it was used to dye the fabrics and perfumes, but once its amazing culinary properties were discovered, it became a valuable ingredient to create tasty dishes with those beautiful golden nuances, such as saffron risotto. It originates from a flower called crocus sativus, commonly known as the "saffron crocus."
Each flower produces only three threads (stigmas) of saffron, and it blooms for only one week each year.
The saffron must be harvested by hand(!), in the mid-morning, when the flowers are still closed to protect the delicate stigmas inside.
The cultivation of the Giulia’s Saffron is carried out with respect for the tradition and in the total absence of mechanization. The land that welcomes the saffron bulb, is cleaned and prepared with great care during the year, and it is constantly fed with natural fertilizers.
Have you ever seen a blooming field of Saffron? I still remember when I see it for the first time traveling in Central Spain with my father many years ago...It's pure beauty!
Our Umbria Food & Wine Tours are the best way to learn, and of course, taste these unique delicacies. Check out our 2021 programs and let's start dreaming...
THE RECIPE (for 4 people)
INGREDIENTS FOR THE BROTH
1 celery stalk
1 parsley stalk
Sea salt, to taste
> You can add a piece of boiled beef to the broth for extra flavor.
INGREDIENTS FOR RISOTTO
Rice: 320gr (11,3oz), preferably CARNAROLI
Saffron: 1 spoon of pistils
White wine: 40gr (1,4oz)
Grana Padano: 80gr (2,8oz), grated
1 medium onion, finely chopped
Butter: 125gr (4,40oz)
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
PREPARATION - Hands-On
1. MAKE THE BROTH
To prepare the broth, combine all of the ingredients in a pot, cover with cold water, bring to boil and keep it simmering while preparing the risotto. This is to avoid slowing down the cooking of the rice grains.
2. MIX THE SAFFRON
Dip some of the saffron pistils in a glass of water, and leave it there for at least 2 hours, so that all the flavor of the spice is released. Overnight would be even better.
3. MAKE A SOFFRITTO
In a medium saucepan, heat about 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over low-medium heat, and add the onion, sautéing until it becomes soft and translucent for about 20 minutes.
4. TOAST THE RICE
Add the rice to the pan, and toast it by stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes at medium-high heat, until it becomes fragrant. Add the white wine, and stir until it has evaporated and the rice is translucent with just a small pearl visible in the center of the grain.
5. CUDDLE THE RICE
Add one ladle of the broth, stirring until all of the liquid has been pretty much absorbed. Using a spatula, or a wooden spoon, collect all of the grains from the sides of the pot and stir into the mixture so that the rice cooks evenly. Continue adding one ladle of the warm stock at a time, stirring constantly to ensure even cooking. Take care of the rice, don't leave it on the fire without giving the right attention. Risotto is demanding and requires a lot of cuddles. Taste the rice once in a while to gauge how close it is to be cooked and to adjust the seasoning if needed.
6. COOK UNTIL CREAMY
When the rice is al dente, usually it takes about 18 minutes, add and stir the saffron-infused into the risotto. Season with salt, to taste. Remove the pot from the heat, and add the butter and Grana Padano.
Stir until the ingredients are completely incorporated, adjust the consistency with some broth if you see that the rice is to dry. Let it rest for 1 to 3 minutes before serving.
WHAT ABOUT THE WINE?
A great dish can only be combined with great wine. Umbria has it all!
For a beautiful spring day, we have chosen a bottle of Rose’ wine “Amorosa” for an extra floral touch to our delicious meal. Obtained from Sangiovese grapes harvest early, it is fine and pleasant, the color is an elegant tenuous pink. The nose reveals notes of currents with pleasant floral nuances.
Serving temperature 8 ° C 12.5% - 750 ML bottle. Salute!
We hope you'll enjoy preparing this dish. Of course, you can order any of the ingredients mentioned above from us or our local partners.
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