Chiara's family grows their own organic saffron, so she offered to send me some. Yes, please!! I love saffron, so I was very excited to receive her home-grown saffron. And I knew exactly what I wanted to do with at least some of it: make Risotto alla Milanese. The idea of making risotto can be intimidating...I know, it used to intimidate me too -- all that stirring. The good news is that once you get a few basic techniques down, risotto isn't difficult to make at all. It takes a bit of stove time, but you're rewarded in the end with something as luscious and comforting as a cashmere sweater!!!
Risotto alla Milanese per ChiaraStep 1: To assemble the chicken rolls, lay three chicken cutlets on a sheet of foil. Salt and pepper to taste. Top each cutlet with one or two small pieces of fresh mozzarella, a basil leaf, and a bit of freshly grated garlic. Roll the cutlets up and secure with a large toothpick. I used wooden skewers that I cut in half. Set aside while you get the risotto going.
Step 2: Heat 3 cups of chicken stock in a large measuring cup. In a heavy saucepan, heat 2 tbs. butter and 2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil. Add 1/2 cup finely chopped onion and cook for about 10 minutes. Add two pinches of saffron threads, stir, and cook for 1 minute. Add 1.5 cups Carnaroli rice and stir with a wooden spoon or silicone spoonula for 3-4 minutes.
Step 3: Add 1/2 cup white wine to the rice + 3/4 cup of the stock.
Cook, stirring almost continuously, until all the liquid is absorbed by the rice. Continue adding stock 3/4 cup at a time and stirring until absorbed before adding more stock.
Step 4: While you're tending to the risotto, you can prepare the chicken rolls on the next burner over. Put a bit of extra virgin olive oil in a non-stick skillet over med-high eat. Salt and pepper the outside of each chicken roll. Brown the chicken pieces on each side. Turn the heat to med-low, cover, and simmer while the risotto finishes.
Step 5: After the risotto has been cooking for about 20 minutes, give it a taste. It's ready when it's creamy and tender...but with a bit of firmness. Sort of like al dente pasta. It'll look a bit like this...creamy and a gorgeous shade of yellow:
Step 6: Just before serving, add two tbs. butter and 1/2 cup grated parmesan. Stir to combine. The end result is a pot of creamy, golden risotto goodness. The kitchen smells amazing, and you're anticipating a fantastic dinner!!! I spooned the risotto into serving bowls. Just before eating, I sliced the chicken rolls into medallions and placed them on top of the risotto. It was as pretty to look at as it was to eat. the flavors were very well matched.
Chiara - Grazie for all the foods you sent...I can't wait to try them all! The saffron tasted amazing...I'm so honored that you sent me this saffron grown by your family. I've never been to Italy, but I had a taste of it here in Texas last night!!