Risotto with Saffron and Porcini is a creamy, very fragrant, and tasty first course. It’s a traditional northern Italy recipe, that over time has become one of the top comfort-food ever, even abroad.
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In this dish, two of the most classic recipes of Italian cuisine come together. The combination of saffron with the flavor of porcini enriches the traditional taste with the special aroma of saffron.
Probably not everyone knows that saffron is used both as a spice and as a natural dye. In fact, it is one of the main ingredients of the famous Milanese risotto to which gives the note yellow color and a sweet and delicate flavor.
Therefore the resulting dish is creamy and tasty, with aromas that invite right from the first forkful!
Mini guide to choosing the ideal rice
As everyone knows, there are many varieties of rice in the world. To best prepare the risotto and obtain a compact and creamy consistency, it is important to choose rice grains that release the right amount of starch.
Here are my favorites:
Carnaroli – large and tapered grains, with the ideal consistency for risotto. Above all, it belongs to the superfine rice group that is the most used one, even in haute cuisine, because it retains odors and its grains keep the creaming perfectly.
Arborio – A good risotto rice must have large and consistent grains… typical characteristics of Arborio! Moreover, being particularly rich in starch, it has a high degree of deafening and keeps creaming very well.
Anyway, tastes are surely personal, but some types of rice are not ideal for the success of a risotto. My main tip is to avoid Parboiled Rice! It is the precooked rice and does not overcook, but it has the fault of being too poor in starch.
6 Tricks for a perfect Risotto
Here are some small tips to make your risotto exceptional:
Do not wash the rice – The floury patina is not a defect of the grain, but a characteristic that contains important substances that guarantee the compactness of the grain during cooking;
Always toast the rice: Toasting is a very important phase in the preparation of risotto: let it toast over moderate heat and keep one hand open with the palm facing the rice. When you feel the heat on your hand, then the rice is toasted to the right point;
Stir without flame: at the end of cooking, remove the pan from the heat, add a knob of butter, parmesan, and parsley and mix only when cooked and the stove is off.
Hydrate the mushrooms: to get an even tastier risotto, especially if you use dried mushrooms, hydrate them directly in the vegetable broth. In this way, the broth has a more intense flavor and a beautiful amber color.
Use a wooden spoon: avoid mixing the rice with metal spatulas or spoons. If you have one with a hole in the center like this one, it would be the best choice because the rice, as it is mixed, passes through it. Otherwise, a Cucchiarella is always a great choice!
The broth should be added little by little: Enough of risottos drowned in broth! The broth must be added one ladle at a time, in order to cover the rice flush and allow it to cook slowly.
What is better between Fresh or Dried Porcini?
There is no correct and wrong answer to this question! On the one hand, for this recipe, I used Salpa Italian Dried Porcini Mushrooms. Mainly, because they are handy and practical. Secondarily, because they can be found in the supermarket in practical sachets. For 4 people 1 sachet is enough.
On the other hand, if you are lucky enough to find Fresh Porcini, preferably choose the young ones with a closed and rounded hat. So check that they are of good quality: the mushroom must not have a flaccid or sticky consistency and the spongy part must not be green.
Additionally, remember to never wash mushrooms, they will absorb water and the flavor would be destroyed! To clean fresh porcini, just use a dry cotton cloth and a small knife to remove traces of soil from the stem.
And here are all the steps to make the recipe to perfection.
- 400 g rice
- 1,5 lt vegetable broth
- 30 g butter
- ½ onion
- ½ glass of white wine
- 1 sachet of saffron
- 50 g dried porcini mushrooms
- 40 g grated parmesan
- 1 pinch black pepper (optional)
- In a separate saucepan, prepare the vegetable broth. To do this you can follow the directions in our recipe here. Add a little more salt so you don't have to use it in rice. Also, add mushrooms to the broth to add flavor. Keep the broth warm and ready to use.
- Chop the onion finely.
- Pour 20 g of butter and chopped onion into a large saucepan. Fry over medium-low heat, until the onion becomes transparent but not golden.
- Pour the uncooked rice directly into the pot and with a wooden spoon, mix to toast.
- After about two minutes pour the wine or white on rice and let soften for about 1 minute more.
- From this point on, pour 1-2 ladles of hot broth over the rice as it cooks, stirring constantly. Be careful not to let the rice stick to the pot. Let the rice absorb the broth slowly.
- Then, as soon as the liquid dries, pour in new broth and continue like this up to 2/3 of the cooking time.
- When 2/3 of the way through cooking, pour a ladle of broth into a glass and melt the saffron inside. Pour the saffroned liquid into the risotto. You will immediately notice that it turns a deep yellow.
- Once cooked, turn off the stove.
- Chop the parsley and add it to the risotto along with a pinch of pepper (optional).
- Add the knob of butter that you kept aside and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.
- Stir for a few minutes to incorporate all the ingredients well and to melt the butter and cheese.
- Let it rest for 3 or 4 minutes before serving.
Find here how to make a Perfect Broth at Home
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 300Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 25mgSodium: 2877mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 1gSugar: 6gProtein: 8g
Nutrition Data is automatically calculated and may be not accurate.
If you want to know which wines to pair with risotto, read our guide to the 20 Italian Best Red Wines and choose your favorite!
At last, I almost forgot …. are you wondering what does the writing on my plate mean? I’m curious, can you guess it?
The dish I used today is an artisanal creation I bought on Lumineers Project, a small concept store in Ferrara. Beautiful enameled tin plates, that become unique with a lot of typical Italian rumors that are used when at the table. Don’t you find it so cute?
I hope you’ve loved this recipe as much as I do!