During these strange and uncertain times, we’re all in need of a pick-me-up. And what better than something to feed the body as well as the soul? In our current cookery series, James Gingell from The Stinky Chef deli in Rawtenstall, Lancashire shares a selection of delicious recipes.

Gingell says: “Saffron is known as the world’s most expensive spice. Its golden threads (called stigmas) are handpicked from the crocus plant (Crocus Sativus) and noted for having magical and medicinal properties. Plus, it’s packed full of antioxidants. Its unique flavour marries with a variety of sweet and savoury dishes. In the following recipe for Risotto di Zafferano, the saffron is used to flavour a rich, creamy and buttery risotto (not to be confused with Risotto Milanese that is enriched with bone marrow and accompanies the classic Italian dish Osso Bucco Milanese).”

Risotto di Zafferano (saffron risotto)


Serves 4 

360g Risotto rice (preferably Carnaroli variety)

2 shallots or ½ white onion (peeled and finely diced)

150g salted butter 

50g Parmesan cheese (grated)

1 glass of dry white wine

1/2g saffron threads

550ml beef stock

Salt and pepper

Saffron risotto 4 (1)Method

Melt 100g of butter and sauté and soften the finely diced shallot in a deep-bottomed pan without colouring.

Now, add the risotto rice to the pan, stirring well so all the grains are lightly coated in butter and the rice is toasted slowly without colour.

Next, add the white wine and stir into the rice until evaporates. Then , gradually add the hot beef stock, stirring frequently to release the starches from the rice, until all the stock is totally absorbed.

At this stage, add the pre-soaked saffron threads and stir into the risotto. Remove from the heat and add the remaining butter and grated Parmesan cheese, season with the required amount of salt and pepper. Spoon into warm bowls and serve.

Buon appetito.