Alex Rushmer’s risotto Milanese
This is a near replica of the dish I cooked at Le Calandre back when I filmed MasterChef ten years ago.
It is traditionally accompanied by slow-cooked veal shin and a sharp gremolata but also makes for a satisfying dish when paired with nothing but itself.
Don’t be shy with the saffron; not only does it lend a beautiful colour but the scent and flavour is so important to the dish that it’s a shame to scrimp. Although it’s slightly more expensive, I’ve found Iranian saffron to be the best available.
Ingredients (serves four)
• 4 banana shallots, peeled and very finely diced
• 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely grated
• 25ml olive oil
• 125ml dry white wine
• 200g risotto rice
• 1.5-2l good-quality stock
• 2g saffron threads
• Fine sea salt
• 30g unsalted butter
• 50g finely grated parmesan cheese
• Juice of half a lemon
• Bring the stock to a gentle boil in a saucepan and leave over a gentle heat. The stock should be near boiling but not boiling too ferociously so as to evaporate. Add a tablespoon of stock to the saffron in a small bowl.
• Add the olive oil, shallots and garlic to a saucepan and cook gently over a low heat for 20 minutes to soften; but do not allow them to colour. Add the wine and boil until the liquid has reduced to a volume about 1/5 of the starting quantity.
• Remove the shallot, garlic and wine mix from the pan into a small bowl and wipe out the saucepan.
• Add the rice and cook in the dry pan for three to four minutes to allow the grains to heat up but not to toast or colour. The hotter the rice, the faster it will absorb the stock.
• When the rice is hot, add the shallot, garlic and wine mix back to the pan, stir briefly and then add two ladles of stock. It will boil immediately. Stir and taste regularly. Adding a little salt often through the cooking process will result in a properly seasoned dish as opposed to one that tastes salty. Add stock incrementally as the risotto cooks, whenever the rice begins to look dry.
• When the rice is almost cooked, but still has a little bite (if you squeeze a grain, the central germ should split into three distinct pieces – total cooking time for the rice should be 12 to 14 minutes), remove from the heat and stir in the butter, parmesan and saffron-infused stock. Add a final half ladle of stock and stir rapidly to incorporate the fats.
• Season with salt, if necessary, and the lemon juice and serve straight away.