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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Risotto alla Milanese - With a Little Something Extra


Good parmigiano cheese is good parmigiano cheese; it’s a shame to waste even a teeny crumb of it, even when all you have left is the ends, the rind, after all the cheese has been grated away. Friends in Stresa taught me something to do with those ends; they use them while preparing Risotto alla Milanese. Here’s what we did:

We cooked the risotto as normal, browning the rice in equal amounts of butter and olive oil, to open it, to allow it to breathe, but at the same time we added the ends of the parmigiano to the rice.
Beef broth is then slowly poured in. We set the clock for 15 minutes and add beef broth three times during that period. You’ll notice I haven’t specified how much broth to use, or how much rice. That’s because we never measure. Rice is measured in handfuls; one for me and one for you and one for the pot. Broth is measured by being enough to well cover the rice each time it is poured over. After the second addition of broth the rinds of cheese were already quite soft.
We add the zafferano, the saffron, with the last addition of broth. Now the risotto becomes its distinctive yellow color. When this last liquid is absorbed it should coincide, piu o meno, more or less, with the 15 minutes, and then it should be removed from the heat. Now add some grated parmigiano, stir it in, and let the risotto rest for 5 minutes.

That’s it. Classic Risotto alla Milanese, this time with some now soft and chewy chunks of parmigiano mixed in. It gives the risotto a bit of extra flavor, and I love that it makes use of what would otherwise be thrown away. Be fair when serving the risotto; make sure that everyone gets equal amounts of the cheese pieces; I’ve seen people fight for them. Have you tried this? Heard of any other methods like it to not waste food?

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