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Perfect for a chilly night, enjoy Sara Lempa’s cherished New Year’s family tradition – her dad’s Risotto Milanese di Giuseppe with Creamed Chicken.

(Recipe serves 4 people but this should feed more)

  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 c. Arborio rice (do not rinse)
  • 1 small package dried mushrooms of any kind (I use shitake) and reconstitute them in 1 cup of the boiling broth set aside on the counter
  • 2 lg cans or cartons of broth (chicken, veggie or even mushroom) or homemade
  • 2 packages Spanish saffron*

*Crumble the packages into ½ c. of boiling broth and set aside on the counter. If you are using bottled saffron (I always use the threads), use your judgment about how many threads to use (I use a generous pinch, about ¼-½ teaspoon).



  1. Bring broth to a boil in a large pot and then leave simmering. Use about ½ cup to blend saffron into and ½-1 cup to reconstitute the dried mushrooms and set aside on the counter. My sisters use white wine for a cup or more of broth in the risotto (and drink a few glasses while stirring) but I do not! Always use a NON-METAL spoon when cooking risotto!
  2. Melt butter in another saucepan, add rice coating it with butter. Begin to add the hot broth, one ladle at a time into the rice, stirring constantly. Be patient. Continue to add broth. You may not use all your broth but it is good to have it ready.
  3. When rice is almost cooked (al dente), add reconstituted mushrooms chopped in small pieces, the broth it was sitting in and the saffron broth. Don’t waste a thread of the saffron – after all, it is the most expensive spice in the world and more expensive than gold.
  4. After about 30 minutes of continuous stirring, most of the broth should be absorbed. It should still be slightly loose but not watery. Let it sit in a serving bowl for at least 15 minutes and serve with grated Pecorino Romano cheese.

Creamed Chicken
The accompanying dish for the risotto is chicken in white sauce and a salad of field greens with an olive oil and white wine vinegar dressing

(Do this part ahead of time since the rice is labor-intensive)

Boil a couple or few chicken breasts in water or broth. Shred into big chunks. If I use this chicken broth for the risotto, I strain it until the broth is totally clear using paper towels in my strainer.

White Sauce:
Make a roux (butter and flour) and add broth until thickened. Put the chicken in the sauce and serve with the rice.