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Golden Shades: Milanese Risotto (with Ossobuco)

Its golden-yellow color makes it immediately recognizable; its slightly pungent and spicy flavor tantalizes the palate unmistakably. We're talking about risotto alla milanese, an iconic dish of Lombard cuisine known and loved worldwide.

The origins of saffron risotto

Various stories and legends surround its origins.

According to some, the famous yellow risotto was "invented" in the Middle Ages by a Sicilian cook who had moved to Milan and, unable to find all the ingredients to make arancini, decided to substitute frying with pot cooking.

Another tale attributes the incorporation of saffron into the renowned risotto to sheer happenstance. As per a manuscript unearthed from the Trivulziana Library, the inception of this delicacy also shares a close bond with the Milan Cathedral.

In 1574, Maestro Valerio di Fiandra was engrossed in crafting the Cathedral's stained glass windows. Working alongside him was an assistant dubbed Zafferano ("saffron"), owing to his penchant for infusing colors with a touch of saffron to enhance their brilliance. One day, in jest, the Maestro warned the young assistant that if he persisted, he would find himself adding saffron to dishes as well. True to the jest, on September 8, 1574, during Valerio's daughter's wedding, Zafferano, in cahoots with the cook, agreed to introduce a variation to the wedding menu: a dash of the yellow spice would be added to the rice, previously seasoned solely with butter. Much to the young man's astonishment, the guests not only relished the flavor but also admired the golden tint of the dish, interpreting it as a favorable omen.

The recipe for Risotto alla Milanese

Here we present the recipe for saffron risotto from our historic Cesarina Annamaria.

The recipe for ossobuco with gremolata

If risotto alone is not enough for you, here's another gift from Cesarina Annamaria, who shares her recipe for preparing the famous ossobuco in gremolata, excellent to accompany risotto alla milanese.

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