In this recipe the chefs at Sara Saffron share their secret of how to make the best saffron risotto that will look delightful, treat your taste buds and impress your friends. And best of all… it only takes just over 30 minutes from ingredients to the plate.
Using saffron to create one of the tastiest risottos out there
Everyone talks about the glorious, rich colour of saffron. Genuine saffron threads are a striking shade of yellowish orange. Many top chefs put this to excellent use in a range of recipes, but saffron risotto must surely be one of the best ways to showcase its colour.
So… what is risotto?
A risotto is a rice based dish. When we usually cook rice, we boil it in lots of slightly salted water and then drain it before serving, separating the grains of rice with a fork to avoid them sticking together. However, risotto uses far less liquid, with only just enough stock added to create a creamy dish at the end. The starch in the rice works with the stock to develop that creamy result. Many other ingredients can be added to give different flavours and results too.
Saffron risotto – the king among risottos?
Saffron is the star in this version of risotto. As the cooking process releases the vibrant colour from the saffron strands, the rice ends up absorbing it. You may be surprised to learn that few other ingredients are required to highlight this comforting recipe.
While you can use plain white rice to make risotto, it’s best to use one of two types:
- Arborio rice
- Risotto rice
Both are ideal for risottos as they are starchy enough to give the desired creamy result at the end.
What’s the ideal liquid to solid ratio for a classic saffron risotto?
Typically, you need to employ the 3:1 ratio to any risotto you make. This means you need three times the amount of liquid to solids. Chicken stock works well, but you need to consider whether you’re adding white wine too – a common ingredient in these recipes.
When you first start making saffron risottos it’s probably easier to use measuring cups to get the right amounts. One cup of rice would need three cups of liquid. That might mean three cups of stock or two and a half cups with half a cup of white wine.
What ingredients will you need for saffron risotto?
- Half an onion, finely chopped
- Three cups of chicken stock
- One cup of risotto or arborio rice
- One tbsp of good quality olive oil
- ½ tsp of the best quality saffron
You’ll also need a sauté pan or a frying pan with higher sides than usual. Make sure you also have a ladle to hand.
How to cook saffron risotto
- Heat the stock gently in a pan.
- Add the olive oil to the frying pan and add the chopped onion to it. Make sure this is on a low heat – you want softened onion rather than crispy, browned onion.
- Add the butter and stir into the softened onion.
- Add the rice and stir until it is coated in the oil and butter and the onion is well mixed in.
- Now for the stock. Grab that ladle and spoon some of the stock into the pan with the rice, oil, onion, and butter. (Liquid measurements are always approximate as rice can vary in its ability to soak up the liquid.)
- Add the saffron.
- Make sure the heat is kept low so the rice simmers in the liquid. Do not leave it unattended – the secret to achieving a great risotto is tending to it and adding more liquid only when the existing amount is almost absorbed.
- The result, after around 30 minutes, should be a creamy consistency with fully cooked rice.
- At this point, add the parmesan to taste.
How best to serve up your risotto?
The best way to serve your saffron risotto is as is, in a warm bowl. However, you could add fresh crusty buttered bread or a delicious side salad if you want to dress it up a little. You can also serve it with chicken.
Where can you buy saffron?
Sara Saffron offer a full range of authentic Persian saffron for incredible freshness, deep colour, pungent aroma and superb flavour. In our expert opinion this is the finest saffron you can buy.
Our award winning saffron comes direct from the best farms in the Khorasan province in the Middle East and includes Pushal, Negin, Super Negin and Organic saffron.