Risotto Milanese (saffron and bone marrow)

Risotto Milanese (saffron and bone marrow)

Risotto alla Milanese

I had been traveling for the holidays. When I came home I wanted to reward my sweet old pooch McIntosh with a bone. He loves these bones from the butcher, and with his old teeth, he does not break the bones into dangerous bits like some of our other dogs would have done. He simply gnaws and licks the bone to his heart’s content. And then he saves them in his boneyard (see below).

Risotto alla Milanese Recipe

Risotto Milanese (saffron and bone marrow)

So I purchased some bones from my butcher and started to search the web for marrow recipes, as the too rich marrow seems to upset Mac’s digestion if you know what I mean. Bones for Mac, marrow for us.

I came across a recipe for Risotto alla Milanese from my long-time blogger friend Frank. His recipes are authentic and awesome, over the years I have made several. His site, Memorie di Angelina, is a terrific Italian food resource.

Risotto Milanese (saffron and bone marrow)

So there it was, a bone marrow recipe…with risotto! Perfect. Grazie for the inspiration!

Frank can show you how to make the traditional Risotto alla Milanese. My dish is different, for one, I wanted to highlight the bone marrow so instead of cooked into the rice, a generous portion of browned bone marrow is served on top of the saffron risotto.

Risotto Milanese (saffron and bone marrow)


beef marrow bones
6 c. chicken broth (may not require all 6 cups)
1/2 t. saffron threads
2 T. olive oil
1/2 c. finely chopped shallot
1/2 c. dry white wine
1 1/2 c. arborio rice
1/3 c. parmesan, grated
salt and pepper to taste
large cooked shrimp (optional)


In one pot, bring broth to a simmer. In another heavy-bottomed sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add shallot and cook until it becomes a very light golden color. Add rice and stir to coat all the grains. Add wine and cook until evaporated. Then turn down the heat and add the broth, one ladle at a time, constantly stirring as the rice absorbs the liquid.

Meanwhile, pour 1/2 cup of hot broth over the saffron in a small bowl, and let stand while cooking the risotto.

When the rice is almost al dente (about 5 minutes before it is done), add the saffron with broth. Continue to cook until tender and creamy. Remove from heat. Fold in grated Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

This risotto should be served all’onda (like a wave), just loose enough to undulate like the sea when the pot is shaken. Add a bit more broth if necessary just before serving.

Risotto Milanese (saffron and bone marrow)

Bone Marrow

Have the butcher cut marrow bones vertically into about 2 1/2″ lengths.

Oven roast marrow bones at 400°F for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and pop out the marrow. I return the bones to the oven and roast for an additional 10 minutes, then cool completely before giving one to a very happy McIntosh. I wrap them individually and freeze the rest of the bones as treats for Mac later on.

At the last minute, brown the marrow pieces in a dry pan over medium-high heat. Remove to paper towels. Immediately season with a sprinkling of Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. The rich marrow also benefits from a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.


Ladle risotto into warm bowls. Arrange marrow on top. Garnish with chives.

Surf and Turf Risotto

Surf and Turf Risotto

And for a winning “surf and turf” version, add large cooked shrimp…


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