Milanese Risotto

In Milan province ‘Risotto alla Milanese’ is a real institution. It’s impossible to have avoided ever tasting it and, above all, inconceivable not to know how to prepare it. Here we present the original recipe, which includes the addition of bone marrow, which you should have if you are also making ‘Ossibuchi alla Milanese’, and a little fat from some roast meat, which is optional. The real Milanese eat it with a spoon. The ‘Brianza’ and the ‘milanes arios’ douse the rice with red wine before adding the broth, so to make up for the absence of roast meat fat, which will not be available except on special occasions, because their roast meat is often cooked with wine. This use has spread as the ‘Milanese style’. It’s also important to form a ‘wave’ - that is, where all the grains of rice are smoothly connected together. And this is the basis for making other recipes: ‘salted’ risotto; baked rice ‘pie’ with roast pigeons, ‘filoni’, sweetbreads and dried mushrooms - cooked separately - and truffles; and risotto croquettes, breaded and fried in butter. For some of these preparations we recommend combining the risotto with one or two whole eggs.


  • vialone rice 350 grams
  • butter 50 grams + some butter to make it creamy
  • ossobuco 30 grams for the bone marrow
  • rendered fat from a roast 20 grams If you wish
  • stock 2000 millilitres Concentrated
  • onions A white onion
  • saffron 1 sachet
  • parmesan Or Parmesan, plenty
  • white wine Dry, to deglaze and reduce

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20 minutes Total time
15 minutes Active time
Serves 4 persons
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Place the bone marrow, butter, any juices or gravy from a roast, and thinly sliced onion in a saucepan; let them cook gently over a low heat until they take on a golden colour. Add the rice and stir it well so it absorbs the seasoning. At this point, deglaze with white wine and turn up the heat. Keep stirring with a wooden spoon, then start to add the boiling stock – real stock, not from a stock cube - over the rice, one ladle at a time. As the stock evaporates and is absorbed, continue to cook it over a high flame, adding more ladles of stock until cooked, being careful that the rice remains ‘al dente’. When it is two-thirds cooked, add the saffron. Please note that if using saffron threads, you add it two-thirds of the way through to give it a chance to melt, but if it is in powder form it is better to add it at the end of cooking so as not to lose its fragrance. Finally add a knob of butter and Parmesan. Stir well and serve.

Tradition has it that the basis of this dish involves the fat from roast meat. However, if you don’t like roasts, or want to keep the recipe light, you can omit it, perhaps adding some ‘body’ to your risotto with red wine instead. Another idea: try adding fresh mushrooms to this risotto, or perhaps enhance its flavour with a nice sprinkling of nutmeg - some people even add an egg.
The origins of the Milanese Risotto are controversial. What we do know for certain is that rice arrived in our country in the thirteenth century with the Moors. But it was a long journey before we arrive at Milanese Risotto. Nothing is written about this delicious risotto until the eighteenth century. However, legend has it that it was born in the Renaissance at the wedding of a master glassmaker particularly attached to the colour of yellow. The wedding was on September 8, 1574, and friends of the groom, playing a trick based on this passion for yellow, made him yellow rice for his wedding banquet. From the joke was born a real and genuine culinary landmark, both of Lombard gastronomy and beyond.

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