My love affair with risotto began with this saffron-tinged risotto alla Milanese, and now that I'm learning to make risotto in the pressure cooker, I'm more in love than ever before. There are only a handful of ingredients in this dish, so each one needs to be the very best you can find. Real Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, good Italian arborio rice, pure saffron threads (expensive, but you only need a pinch), creamy butter, and broth that isn't too salty. When you're cooking with short-grain rices, note that the proportion of liquid to rice is approximately 4-to-1, compared to the 2-to-1 ratio for cooking long-grain white rice; however, in the pressure cooker (or Instant Pot), which retains more liquid in the cooking process, the proportion is slightly different. I've given you both methods, because I really want you to fall in love with this risotto, too. (And here's a tip for parents: when preparing this for your kids, call it "yellow cheesy rice." It works for us.)
Risotto alla Milanese (stovetop and pressure cooker recipes)
Note: I use a 6-quart electric pressure cooker; if you use something else, you might have to adjust the timing.
Serves 4 as a main course, 6-8 as appetizer. Leftovers will keep for two days in the refrigerator.
Ingredients (note changes in the recipe for pressure cooker method)
7 cups chicken broth (homemade stock or low-sodium store-bought)
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp saffron threads
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup finely minced onion
2 cups carnaroli or arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
STOVETOP METHOD: Bring broth to a boil in a large pot and set aside at a simmer on the stove. Boil 1/2 cup water and pour into a glass measuring cup; add saffron threads and set aside. Heat oil in a large, deep skillet. Add onion, and sauté until soft but not brown, 2-3 minutes. Stir in the rice, making sure to coat each grain, and let toast for just a minute.
Remove pan from heat, and stir in the wine. It will bubble up, so keep your distance! Return the pan to the heat. When the liquid is absorbed, begin adding broth, 1 ladleful at a time, letting each bit of liquid be absorbed. After 2 cups are added, stir the saffron water into the rice. Continue adding broth, reserving 1/4 cup at the end. Remove from heat.
Add butter and cheese, and stir vigorously for 2 minutes. Add in reserved 1/4 cup broth and stir to desired creaminess. Season to taste with black pepper, and serve immediately.
PRESSURE COOKER/INSTANT POT METHOD: Warm 3-1/4 cups of broth in the microwave, and set aside. Boil 1/4 cup water (I do this is the microwave, too) and pour into a glass measuring cup; add a pinch of saffron threads and set aside. Set the pressure cooker to Browning, and heat oil 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Add 1/2 cup minced onion, and sauté until soft but not brown, 2-3 minutes. Stir in 1-1/2 cups of rice, making sure to coat each grain, and let toast for just a minute. Pour in the saffron and soaking liquid, and 1/4 cup white wine, and stir occasionally until the liquid is mostly absorbed (this will happen very quickly).
Turn off the cooker, and lock the lid in place. Cook at High Pressure for 6 minutes, then quick release the pressure. It helps to set your own timer when the pot comes to full pressure, so you'll know when the cook time ends.
There will be some liquid remaining in the risotto, so set the cooker to Browning, add butter and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, and stir vigorously for 30-60 seconds, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is as creamy as you like it. (Remember that the rice will continue to thicken after the heat is off, so stop cooking just before you think it's creamy enough.)
Season to taste with black pepper, and serve immediately.
More creamy risotto variations:
Shrimp and asparagus risotto with mushrooms (pressure cooker method), from The Perfect Pantry
Mushroom risotto, from The Perfect Pantry
Lemon and pea risotto, from The Perfect Pantry
Risotto with pesto, peas and pine nuts, from The Perfect Pantry
Butternut squash risotto with saffron, from My Baking Addiction
Balmain bug, saffron, and fennel risotto, from What Katie Ate
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