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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Saffron Risotto

I love saffron. The reason I love saffron probably has something to do with the cost. I am inexplicably attracted to expensive things. The last bottle of saffron I bought was $10, and it contained 1 gram of saffron. About enough to make this recipe twice. It's worth it though.

I also love risotto. People think that risotto is hard to make, but its not. It takes about a half an hour, and you need to pay attention to it, but it is not hard. It is also low in fat, because the creaminess comes from the starch in the rice, not added fats. This entire recipe only has 2 tbsp of butter, and it serves about 6 people as a side dish. For dinner I served the risotto with a panko crusted oven-baked chicken breast and steamed broccoli. When my daughter, Claire sat down for dinner, she was all excited because she thought I had served macaroni and cheese... and then she realized it was rice. She wasn't overly impressed. As I was scraping her uneaten dinner into the garbage, I was mentally calculating the cost of the saffron I was chucking out.

Saffron Risotto

5 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 tsp saffron threads
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
salt and pepper to taste

1. Bring 5 cups of vegetable stock to a boil in a large pot, turn burner off. Remove 1/2 cup of hot stock to a small bowl and add saffron threads. Set aside to allow saffron to steep.

2. In a large non-stick skillet, sauté onion in 1 tbsp of butter. Add rice and stir around until coated. Add 1/2 cup of wine and stir and simmer until wine is absorbed. Start adding hot broth 1/2 cup at a time, waiting until liquid is fully absorbed before adding the next 1/2 cup. Continue until all broth has been absorbed by the rice (this entire process should not take more than 20 minutes).

3. Add the 1/2 cup of reserved broth with saffron (note: you can strain out the saffron threads or leave them in for added colour. I like to leave them in). Stir until this last 1/2 cup of liquid is absorbed.

4. Make ahead tip. You can prepare the risotto ahead of time, but leave the last 1 cup of liquid to be added when you are ready to serve the risotto. Turn the burner back on, add the last cup of liquid and stir until absorbed.

5. Right before serving stir in 1 tbsp butter and 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese.