Risotto alla Milanese

Serves 4
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This risotto appears in different guises. Saffron is the key ingredient along with bone marrow, though that appears less often now because of beef scares. You will need to ask your butcher very nicely to cut your bone marrow as it's tricky without a band saw. If you don't fancy the bone marrow option, a thick slice of cotechino or zampone works a treat, but you can't really call your risotto Milanese. Don't be tempted by cheap saffron. You'll also need proper chicken stock for this recipe, too.

200g carnaroli or another risotto rice
3 large shallots, peeled and finely chopped
A couple of good knobs of butter
A couple generous pinches of saffron strands
3tbsp red wine
750ml-1 litre hot chicken stock
2tbsp freshly grated Parmesan
4 x 2 1¿2-3 cm thick rings of bone marrow

Infuse half the saffron in the hot chicken stock for 10 minutes or so. Gently cook the shallots in the butter for 2-3 minutes without colouring, stirring every so often. Add the rice and stir on a low heat for a minute. Add the rest of the saffron and wine and stir for another minute or so, then add a quarter of the stock and lightly season with salt and pepper.

Stir every so often on a low heat until the rice has absorbed the stock, continue adding the stock and stirring until the rice is cooked but still has a bit of a bite. The risotto should not be too dry, but a sloppy, spooning consistency. Stir in the rest of butter and Parmesan and season again with salt

Meanwhile season the bone marrow with salt and pepper, and place under a hot grill until the bone marrow in the centre is hot all the way through. This should take about 5 minutes. Spoon the risotto onto warm plates or bowls and place the bone marrow in the centre.

Arancini or torta Milanese

These delicious fried rice cakes can be made using leftover risotto from the Milanese recipe above or any other vegetable risotto. You can even just make a white risotto with vegetable stock and add herbs, chopped ham or little nuggets of mozzarella, or another white or blue cheese. Make sure the risotto isn't too wet, otherwise the cakes may just fall apart. Any leftover risotto will just continue cooking and dry out as it's cooling. If it is too wet, just put it back on the heat for a few minutes.

Once your risotto is cold, mould it into either two-bite sized balls or flat patty shapes if you want to serve them as a snack, or larger as a starter. Pass them through flour, beaten egg and then breadcrumbs mixed with finely grated Parmesan. Deep fry and serve with tomato and basil sauce, easily made using a basic pasta sauce recipe or even use a jar of Sacla or Loyd Grossman's, and a simple salad such as rocket.

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