Risotto — or more historically, Risotto alla Milanese, harks back to the construction of the Florence cathedral during the 15th century. The dish is a creature of evolution but Arborio, a short-grained rice, is particularly essential — along with good Parmesan cheese and homemade stock.
The original recipe from Milan calls for beef marrow and saffron, which are hard to procure but worth the effort. Marrow, the end product of simmering beef bones, can be dug out from the hollow space inside legbones.
We used homemade beef bone broth. Rich stock will naturally translate into the best possible flavors from this dish. Many use a chicken or veggie stock. We added Porcini mushrooms, a thrilling treat.
When the fall winds blow, huddle inside with a fire in the fireplace and gorge on this old family favorite.
Two scallions or half of a finely diced onion
Four medium cloves garlic, smashed and finely diced
4 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of virgin olive oil
2 cups of Arborio rice
4 cups stock
½ cup white wine
2 pounds wild mushrooms
2 cups Parmesan cheese
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons of chopped parsley or thyme
¼ teaspoon of saffron threads (optional), added to the liquid
¼ cup of beef marrow (optional)
Simmer the broth in a deep pan. Sauté the onion and garlic in two tablespoons each of the butter and olive oil (many use just butter). Add the mushrooms and sauté another couple of minutes. Stir in the rice and brown for several more.
Add the wine, then slowly add a ½ cup of stock and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Add another ½ cup and continue this process until all the liquid is fully absorbed and the rice is al-dente, slightly crisp to the touch and creamy. Do not overcook.
Add two more tablespoons of butter, then the Parmesan. Salt and garnish. Some chefs add chopped parsley or fresh chopped thyme as a garnish. Cover with the remaining Parmesan and serve immediately. Roast chicken, a pork loin roast and a simple green salad are perfect accompaniments.
Laurie’s Bone Broth
4 pounds beef bones
4 carrots, coarsely chopped
One onion, coarsely chopped
Four stalks celery with leaves, coarsely chopped
1 ½ tablespoons tomato paste
Light sprinkling of salt and freshly ground black pepper over all
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a large, rimmed baking sheet with pan release. Wash bones under cold running water then dry. Place bones on prepared pan. Brush each bone with a small bit of the tomato paste. Chop vegetables and distribute evenly over bones. Add salt and freshly cracked pepper.
Place in preheated oven. Roast bones and vegetables until they are nicely browned, and their aroma fills the air, approximately 90 minutes. Our preferred method is to use a slow-cooker to make the broth.
Transfer the bones and vegetables to a slow-cooker or large stock pot. Add hot water to the roasting pan and scrape the pan to remove the browned bits and add this to your bones. Add additional water to cover. Add the vinegar. Cook on low for 24 hours. Allow to cool slightly then strain. We like to store the stock in glass quart jars.