Saffron risotto with liquorice powder

Fri, 02/27/2009 - 06:17
Risotto allo zafferano con polvere di liquirizia
Photography by Wowe (Wolfgang Wesener)

In.gredienti is the story of two young brothers who conquered the restaurant world with their talent and enthusiasm and now occupy the apex of the world gastronomic scene: Massimiliano Alajmo, the youngest-ever chef in the history of the Michelin guide to earn three stars, and his brother Raffaele, expert and charming padrone di casa of their restaurant Le Calandre near Padua.
The story of their success is appealing for a number of reasons: their young age, their unbounded enthusiasm and curiosity, their lack of apprehension both of the gastronomic past and the future, their joy of experimentation and the irresistibly playful approach that they manage to sustain, notwithstanding the opportunity for excessive gravitas that three stars inevitably presents.
In.gredienti: Le Calandre – Alajmo brothers' cookbook – is like no other, with a cover designed and painted by Massimiliano himself. The book – home made wrote and illustrated – reveals the the philosophical outlook of the chef Massimiliano.

This is one of Massimiliano’s signature dishes – included in the book - a dish that he dedicated to his lovely wife Mariapia and her homeland Calabria and that you can taste whenever you want at Le Calendre's restaurant in Rubano near Padua.


(serves four people)
For the reduced saffron broth
190 ml of chicken broth;
4 g saffron powder.
For the risotto
1.2 litres of hot chicken broth - 320 g Carnaroli rice;
80 g grated Parmesan cheese - 1/2 glass dry white wine;
60 g butter - 50 ml reduced saffron broth;
1 tbsp finely chopped - white onion;
2 1/2 tsp extra-virgin - olive oil;
1 tsp lemon juice - 2 g (pinch) liquorice powder;
Pinch of salt - Pinch sugar.


For the reduced saffron broth: melt the saffron powder in the chicken broth and simmer until broth reduces by a third. (This will produce more reduction than you need for one risotto, so freeze remaining reduction for the next time you make this dish.)
For the risotto: heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the onion. Once onion is transparent, add rice and cook for a couple of minutes until all the rice is coated with oil. Add white wine and stir until wine has evaporated. Now pour in a ladleful of boiling stock and when the rice has absorbed it, add another.
Continue in this way, adding the stock and 30g (2-3tbsp) of the saffron broth gradually, and stirring every so often to prevent the rice sticking to the bottom of the pan. Stir in the salt and sugar. Once cooked, remove from the heat and stir in the butter, Parmesan cheese and lemon juice. Add another drop of boiling broth and spread risotto out over warm serving plates.
Sprinkle surface of risotto with the liquorice powder and decorate plate with a quick brush of remaining saffron broth.
Alajmo's tip: ss an alternative, instead of using liquorice powder you can garnish risotto - already flavoured with a grating of orange zest and finely chopped parsley – with a reduction of blood orange juice.

Alajmo's book "In.gredienti!: le Calendre" is available at