(adapted from "Sunday Suppers at Lucques" by Suzanne Goin)
- 1/4 t saffron threads
- 3 T butter, melted
- 1 qt canned chicken broth
- 1/2 c diced white onion
- 1/4 c diced shallot
- 2 t fresh (or dried) thyme
- 1 dried chile de arbol, chopped
- 1 cup (err on the lighter side) Arborio rice
- 1/4 c white wine
- 2 T parsley, chopped
- 1/4 grated parmesan cheese
- kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
- pour the chicken broth into a pan and set to low heat to warm through
- slowly melt the 3T of butter
- lightly toast the saffron in a small pan until slightly fragrant and ried out
- put the dried saffron into a mortar and pestle and crush into a power - be sure to brush the dust off the mortar!
- pour the butter into the saffron power and stir it up gently - bend down and smell!
- heat a saucepan on the stove with medium heat - add the saffron butter, onion, shallot, chile and thyme - lightly season with salt and pepper
- saute the onion for several minutes until the onion begins to turn translucent
- add the rice and stir and saute for 2-3 minutes
- add the wine and stir until the wine is absorbed
- pour yourself a glass of wine!
- using a baster or a ladle, add about a cup of chicken broth to the pan and start stirring
- reduce heat and keep a slow rhythmic stirring going continuously
- as the rice absorbs the broth, add more, a 1/2 cup at a time and keep stirring
- After about 20 minutes, start tasting the rice for doneness
- Keep stirring and adding broth until the rice is nearly done - just the other side of al dente
- stir in the parmesan cheese and half the parsley
- as you serve, sprinkle top with remaining parsley as garnish
This risotto dish is a great side starch for a bold meat. It can also stand as a meal with the addition of some lobster, shrimp or scallops. The secret: drink wine and get into the Zen of stirring!