Risotto with Bone Marrow, Saffron, and Traditional Balsamic Vinegar

Source: Viola Buitoni, Italy by Ingredient

Recipe Type: | Seasons: ,

Risotto al midollo di bue, zafferano e aceto balsamico tradizionale

Think of this risotto as a cheat version of the classic risotto alla milanese con ossobuco—all the pleasure without the hassle of braising meat for over an hour. But the balsamic is what pushes this dish from satisfying to unforgettable. Its pucker plays in tune with both the sweetness of the saffron and unctuousness of the marrow, leaving your mouth coated in long-lasting flavor balance.

This recipe was demonstrated at the Foodwise Classroom on December 16, 2023.

Serves 4

5 full marrowbones (about 5 pounds)
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 small shallot
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup (200 grams) rice for risotto
1 cup (240 milliliters) dry white wine
¼ cup (5 grams) loosely packed parsley leaves
½ cup (120 milliliters) grated parmigiano reggiano
Traditional balsamic vinegar, for finishing


Heat the broiler. Place the marrowbones on a sheet pan and season on both sides with salt and pepper. Slide the pan under the broiler and leave until the marrow is bubbly and melted all the way through. It should take 10 to 13 minutes, depending on the size of the bones and the quantity of marrow.

In the meantime, pour 5 cups (1.2 liters) water into a saucepan, season it with 2 teaspoons salt. Then place it over medium-high heat.

As soon as it comes to a boil, add half of the saffron threads and cover it. Leave it over the lowest heat to keep it from evaporating.

Grate the shallot on the second smallest holes of a box grater.

Drop the butter into a wide saucepan or sauté pan, no more than 4 inches (10 centimeters) deep, over medium-low heat. When the butter is completely melted and beginning to foam, add the shallot and sauté. Stir occasionally, until it is glassy, hazy, and fragrant. It will take 3 to 4 minutes.

Stir the rice into the butter and shallot and raise the heat to medium. Set a timer for 20 minutes.

Stir the rice to coat it in deliciousness for 1 to 2 minutes, until it is shiny and translucent and has lost its dusty smell. Raise the heat to high and pour in the wine. When the wine no longer smells acidic and caresses rather than curls your nose, add 4 cups (950 milliliter) of the hot saffron-flavored salted water. It will come to a boil almost immediately.

Lower the heat until the rice is at a lively bubble but not boiling. You will need to stay close to the stove, but there will be no need to stir. Just move the rice occasionally to check that it isn’t sticking.

Prepare the garnishes. Mince the parsley. Heat a small frying pan over medium heat until hovering your hand over it feels uncomfortable. Toss in the remaining saffron threads and turn off the heat. Swirl the saffron around the hot pan to make its fragrance bloom, then crumble it between your fingertips.

At minute 10, the rice grains will have grown considerably but still be completely covered in the liquid, which will be cloudy but still quite soupy.

The marrowbones should be ready by now. Scoop the marrow of the fullest bone into a small bowl and cover the rest of the bones with aluminum foil to keep warm.

At about minute 15, taste the rice for salt and adjust as necessary. The liquid will be detectably starchy, and the rice will be close to the surface but barely visible. If the tips of the rice grains are peeking above the surface of the liquid, add a ladleful of the hot saffron water.

At minute 18, the rice should be easily visible above the surface and the liquid tightening but still a little runny. If it is too dense, add a little more hot saffron water. Stay close, wooden spoon in hand.

By minute 20, the rice should be fully visible. The grains will be together but separate and easily move around when the pan is twirled.

Turn off the heat and vigorously stir in 2 tablespoons of the cheese and the marrow scooped out of the large bone. Season the risotto with pepper to suit your taste and divide it among four warm dinner plates. Place a marrowbone on each plate.

Dust with the parsley and garnish with the crumbled saffron. Drizzle with the balsamic. Serve right away with the remaining cheese and the balsamic bottle on the side.

Farmers Market Ingredients