Are you looking for a stunning and mouth-watering dish to serve your guests? There is no need to look past this magnificent golden risotto zafferano!
Your friends and family alike will undoubtedly be impressed by its rich, creamy texture, vivid yellow color, and delicious flavors.
The simplicity of preparation is what sets this saffron risotto recipe apart. This dish is elegant and simple with fewer than ten ingredients, making it appropriate for any occasion.
So why not serve this unforgettable risotto to yourself and your guests as a taste of Italian luxury?
The traditional Italian dish risotto zafferano, also referred to as saffron risotto or risotto allo zafferano, is from Milan in the country's north.
Simple ingredients like butter, onion, white wine, arborio or carnaroli rice, and saffron are used to make this rich and creamy rice dish, which gives it its distinctive golden color and flavor.
While risotto may seem intimidating to make, with a little patience and attention, it is surprisingly easy to prepare.
The key to making the perfect risotto is to add the stock to the rice gradually, stirring gently and constantly to release the starch slowly, which creates the creamy texture that the dish is known for.
Take your time when stirring and be careful not to add all the stock at once or stir too quickly as this could cause a mushy texture.
When the rice is al dente and has a slightly runny consistency, it is ready for risotto.
Risotto is a wonderful option for any occasion because of its versatility and ability to be combined with a variety of meats, vegetables, and herbs.
Saffron rice can even be used again to make delectable arancini balls if you have any leftover.
What is Saffron?
What makes this rice such a lovely golden yellow color is the saffron. Saffron is a spice when comes from the flower Crocus Sativus.
It comes as threads which are reddish in colour. When cooked in a liquid the saffron infuses and makes a lovely rich yellow gold color.
This recipe uses saffron threads. However, if you are unable to get saffron threads, you can also use a pinch of saffron powder.
Making a Creamy and Rich Risotto
To make the best tasting risotto that is both rich and creamy, here are some helpful tips:
- Choose rice with a higher starch content, such as arborio or carnaroli, to create a creamy texture.
- Take your time when adding the stock to the rice, stirring gently and constantly to release the starch slowly
- Don't rush the process - risotto requires a bit of patience, but the end result is well worth it.
- To ensure that the rice cooks evenly and doesn't stick while making risotto, it is best to use a wider saucepan. Although you don't have to stir the rice all the time, you still need to stir it enough to ensure even cooking and avoid sticking.
- It's important to remember that risotto tastes best when served immediately and that if it's kept for too long, the creaminess may be lost.
- If you must store leftover risotto, make sure to do so for no longer than 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator in an airtight container to preserve its texture and flavor. You'll become an expert at making risotto quickly with a little practice and persistence!
You'll be well on your way to making the ideal risotto each and every time if you pay close attention to these suggestions.
What Rice Do I Use?
You may have heard that you need to use risotto rice to make risotto. But what exactly is that anyway?
Typically, risotto is made with arborio rice or carnaroli rice.
Both of these rice types have a high starch content that is essential for producing a creamy risotto. While carnaroli rice has a slightly firmer texture and is preferred by many professional chefs, arborio rice is more widely available and a good choice for beginners.
Additionally, some recipes might call for vialone nano or baldo rice, both of which are suitable for risotto preparation.
Regardless of the brand you choose, it is better to use a high-quality rice, and be careful not to overcook it as this can result in a mushy texture.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Customizable: This recipe for saffron risotto is very adaptable and can be made to accommodate many dietary needs or preferences. For instance, using vegetable broth and skipping the meat or dairy can make it vegan or vegetarian. Using a gluten-free rice variety and ensuring that all other ingredients are gluten-free will also make it gluten-free.
- Risotto zafferano is rich, creamy, and full of flavor.
- Impressive presentation: Even though risotto is frequently served as a fancy dish in restaurants, it's actually a fairly simple dish to make at home. You can wow guests with your culinary prowess and make a stunning presentation by making risotto.
- The ultimate comfort foot: This dish is satisfying and comforting. Enjoy it on it’s own or as a side dish. The creamy texture and warm flavors can help to soothe and nourish you on cold or rainy days.
Cost To Make
Estimated cost = $4.53, or $1.13 a serve
Please note that below is a guide for some of the ingredients we used in the recipe. The printable recipe further down the page has the complete list of ingredients, including quantities and step-by-step instructions.
- Arborio rice: Carnaroli is traditionally used, but if you cannot get it like I couldn't, you can also use arborio rice.
- Butter: This will make the risotto rich and creamy.
- Onion: Finely chopped
- Saffron: Some recipes say to soak the saffron overnight to bring out the color of this beautiful spice. However, I found that this was not the case. If you want a richer yellow color, you can add some more saffron strands when cooking.
- Parmesan cheese, grated: If you are unable to get parmesan cheese, any other type of hard cheese will work well.
- White wine
- Chicken stock (or vegetable broth): Slightly heated
- Salt and pepper: To taste
Below you will find in depth instructions on how to make saffron risotto.
Step One: Heat a wide medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter and chopped onion.
Saute until the onions become lightly browned. You do not want to cook the onions until they are too brown. You just want to cook them until they are soft.
Step Two: Mix through the arborio rice and saute until the rice is coated and becomes lightly golden brown. This should take about 2 to 3 minutes.
Step Three: Add the white wine and saffron. Cook until almost all the liquid is gone from the saucepan.
Step Four: Add 125 ml (½ cup) of chicken stock to the rice mixture. Gently stir the rice through the mixture until almost all of the liquid has absorbed. Repeat until all the stock has been used up.
Step Five: Once all the stock has been used, remove the pan from the heat. Add the parmesan cheese and remaining 1 tablespoon of butter to the mixture. Stir gently through until completely dissolved.
Step Six: Taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper to your liking.
Step Seven: Place a lid on the rice and then allow the rice to sit for 1 to 2 minutes.
Tips for Success
- It is important to gently stir the rice when making risotto zafferano. This is because it allows the starch from the rice to release slowly. If you stir the rice too quickly, the starches will release too fast making your rice go gluggy.
- If you want your risotto to have a stronger yellow color, simply add a bit more saffron.
- Make sure your stock is heated before you add it to the saucepan. This will reduce the chance of slowing down the cooking process of the rice.
- By using butter as opposed to olive oil, it adds a creamy and rich flavor to the rice.
- Use homemade stock if possible, as it will provide a deeper and more complex flavor than store-bought stock.
- Have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go before you start cooking, as risotto requires constant attention and you won't have time to chop or measure ingredients once you begin.
- Keep the stock warm on the stove in a separate pot or pitcher, as adding cold stock to the risotto can bring down the temperature and slow down the cooking process.
- If you want to add other ingredients such as vegetables, seafood, or meat, cook them separately and stir them into the risotto at the end of cooking to ensure they retain their texture and flavor.
- If your risotto turns out a bit too thick, you can thin it out with a little extra stock or even hot water. Just be sure to taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
Once cooled, store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.
Risotto Zafferano can be frozen for up to 3 to 4 months. Allow the frozen risotto to defrost overnight in the fridge before use. You can reheat risotto in the microwave or on the stove to your liking.
There are many ways to enjoy this saffron ristto. It’s great on it’s own or as a side dish with other foods. Here are some suggestions for you:
- Top with grated Parmesan cheese: A sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top of the saffron risotto will enhance its flavor and add a nice touch of saltiness.
- Add seafood: Saffron risotto pairs well with seafood, such as shrimp, scallops, or mussels. You can cook the seafood separately and serve it on top of the risotto, or mix it in while the risotto is cooking.
- Serve with a side salad: A simple side salad of mixed greens, dressed with lemon juice and olive oil, will provide a refreshing contrast to the richness of the saffron risotto.
- Garnish with fresh herbs: A few sprigs of fresh parsley or basil on top of the saffron risotto will add a touch of freshness and color.
- Pair with a glass of white wine: A crisp and refreshing white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc, will complement the flavors of saffron risotto nicely.
- Serve with grilled or roasted vegetables: Saffron risotto goes well with a variety of grilled or roasted vegetables, such as asparagus, bell peppers, zucchini, or eggplant.
Substitutions / Variations
Here are some delicious variations on this risotto zafferano recipe.
- Saffron and Lemon Risotto: Add lemon zest and juice to give your risotto a fresh, tangy flavor.
- Saffron and Tomato Risotto: Use diced tomatoes to give your risotto a burst of flavor and color.
- Saffron and Pea Risotto: Use frozen peas to add a pop of color and a slightly sweet flavor to your risotto.
- Saffron and Chicken Risotto: Add cooked chicken to the rice for a hearty and satisfying meal.
- Saffron and Butternut Squash Risotto: Roast cubes of butternut squash and add them to the rice for a sweet and savory flavor.
- Risotto Zafferano e Funghi (saffron risotto and mushrooms): Sauteed some sliced mushrooms and add them to your cooked risotto. Or if you want to try another delicious risotto, why not make risotto ai funghi.
The rice typically used to make risotto is Arborio or Carnaroli rice. These are short grain rices that are able to absorb a lot of liquid when cooked.
The difference between arborio and carnaroli rice is that carnaroli is a slightly larger grain of rice and is plumper. Carnaroli also has a slightly greater starch content. Traditionally, carnaroli rice is used to make risotto.
Traditionally, risotto is served in a deep heated plate. Usually it is eaten plain, however it is nice with a pan fried meat such as chicken.
It can also be served with sauted mushrooms, roasted carrots, or cooked scallops.
No, you do not need to rinse the rice before making risotto.
In fact, rinsing the rice can remove some of the starch that is needed to create the creamy texture of risotto. Instead, you should use the rice as it is straight out of the package.
If there is any debris or dust on the rice, you can simply pick it out or blow it away.
What rice is used for what?
Ever wondered which might be the best rice to use for a dish you’re about to make.
Or maybe you’re just curious and want to know more about rice in general.
Made this recipe? Let us know how it went in the comments below! We'd love to hear how it turned out.
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- ¼ teaspoon saffron
- 3 tablespoons (20 grams, (0.71 ounces) parmesan cheese grated
- ½ cup white wine
- 3 cups chicken stock (or vegetable broth) slightly heated
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a wide medium saucepan, saute 2 tablespoons of butter and the chopped onion over medium heat.
- Mix through the Arborio rice and sauté until lightly golden brown.
- Add white wine and saffron. Cook until almost all the liquid is gone from the saucepan.
- Add 125 ml (½ cup) of chicken stock at a time to the rice mixture. Gently stir the rice through the mixture constantly until almost all of the liquid has absorbed. Repeat until all the stock has been used up.
- Remove from heat. Add the parmesan cheese and remaining 1 tablespoon of butter to the mixture. Stir through until completely dissolved.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Allow the rice to sit for 1 to 2 minutes with a lid on. Serve.