I’ve just recently written about our younger golden retriever Alix. So, it’s only fair that I now dedicate a post to our first and older golden, Sascha. Regular readers will remember this big white fluffy kitchen shark from a previous post in which I wrote about her penchant for stealing food off our kitchen counter. S and I bought Sascha in March 2000 and while Alix is an adorable, perpetually happy and overly friendly little tyke, Sascha’s somewhat distant. Actually, she’s just plain aloof. Unless you happen to be eating. Then, this snooty, sophisticated pooch becomes the sweetest thing in the whole wide world. She’ll stare at you with big brown eyes. Her tongue will be hanging out of her mouth–which, oddly enough, will be upturned into what looks like a big, toothy smile. Her ears will be adorably perky and her tail will be wagging enthusiastically. She’ll have one paw extended, hoping that you’ll reward her with a savory treat. Quite simply, where Alix is lazy, Sascha is just plain greedy.

S claims that Sascha eats like a man. She likes meat, more meat and sweet desserts. Put a cherry tomato in front of her, and she might pick it up with her mouth, but she’ll just as quickly spit it out. This greedy gourmet doesn’t like fruits and vegetables–unless, that is, they’ve been cooked in some kind of meat sauce. However, when she gets her paws on exactly what she wants, she eats it voraciously and quickly. And once she’s finished, she’ll toss you a look and proudly saunter off in search of another tasty morsel or a little “alone time”.

A dish that S and I both agree quite accurately reflects the rather carnivorous, yet snooty, tastes of our beloved older pooch is Osso Buco with Risotto alla Milanese. And in her honor, we whipped together a small batch–which, of course, we shared with her fuzzy Highness. I love a good Osso Buco. I adore the heartiness of the fork-tender meat that’s been lovingly braised in tomatoes and white wine. And I love the risotto that it’s traditionally paired with. Flavored with saffron and punched up with parmesan and butter, a really well-made Risotto alla Milanese is hard to beat.

For this classic dish, S and I split the cooking tasks. She handled the more arduous task of preparing the veal shanks while I took command of the risotto–something I’m particularly fond of making. For the Osso Buco, S turned to a recipe from Molly Stevens’ All About Braising. Ms Stevens’ recipe is interesting for a number of reasons: It uses a relatively small amount of liquid; she adds orange zest and fennel to the braising liquid as well, which gives the meat and the sauce a fruity, subtly anise-inflected accent; and she recommends finishing the shanks off by topping them with gremolata and returning them to the oven uncovered for 15 minutes. Because the recipe is long–it covers 4 pages in Ms Steven’s fantastic cookbook–I’ve decided not to transcribe it here. I do, however, wholeheartedly recommend buying this cookbook. Every recipe in it that S and I have tried has been fantastic. It really is one of those must-have books.

I love making risotto. Making it is incredibly therapeutic. And when done well, the result is marvelously delicious. I love the satiny smooth texture of it on the tongue. I love the rich, buttery, cheesy taste. Of course, good risotto must also be made with homemade stock–using that powdered stuff just won’t cut it. These days, when I make risotto, I can pretty much work on auto-pilot. I’ve made it often enough that I don’t need to refer to any cookbook. For reference though, I’ve decided to share with you the recipe that appears in Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers’ The River Cafe Cook Book. This recipe is entirely dependable, producing excellent, delectable results.

Making this last batch was especially rewarding because a good friend had recently given us some lovely Iranian saffron that she had bought on a recent trip. Saffron, as many of you know, is the most expensive spice in the world. And Iranian saffron, prized for its fragrance, color and flavor, is considered the very best. Of course, I couldn’t resist using it in this risotto.

The Osso Buco with Risotto alla Milanese turned out just as we had hoped. In honor of our principessa pooch, S and I plated it in small, elegant portions. Just a few spoonfuls of the risotto at the bottom of a shallow dish, with a small portion of the meat, off the bone, placed over the rice.

Risotto alla Milanese
from The River Cafe Cook Book
Serves 6-8

300g arborio rice
1 litre chicken stock
150g butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium red onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon saffron threads, soaked in a bit of stock
75ml extra dry white vermouth
175g parmesan, freshly grated

Heat the chicken stock. Melt 75g of the butter and all the oil in a large saucepan. Gently fry the onion until soft. Add the rice, and off the heat, stir until the rice becomes totally coated; this takes only a minute. Return to the heat, add 2 or so ladlefuls of hot stock and simmer, stirring, until the rice has absorbed nearly all the liquid. Add the saffron. Continue to add more stock as the previous addition is absorbed. Nearly all the stock will have been absorbed by the rice; each grain should have a creamy coating and yet still be al dente. Add remaining butter in small pieces, the vermouth and the parmesan, being careful not to overstir. Serve.

About Aun Koh

Aun has always loved food and travel, passions passed down to him from his parents. This foundation, plus a background in media, pushed him to start Chubby Hubby in 2005. He loves that this site allows him to write about the things he adores--food, style, travel, his wife and his three kids!


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18 January 2006


Michele: Hiya. Both Alix and Sascha are shamelessly in love with themselves and also think they’re gorgeous. Thanks for dropping by.

Bea: Yah, great book! Isn’t it great to find cookbooks that are totally useful, as opposed to the ones written by chefs just interested in showing off.

Gastrochick: Oh wow! What kind of dog? Congrats. Hey, by the way, your blog is awesome. I just added a link to it on mine also.

J: Great minds must think and cook alike 😉

Frederico: Well, we actually are quite strict about feeding them. Sascha got only the tiniest morsel of the meat and just a few grains of the rice. The meal was inspired by her… not cooked for her. Heh heh.

Jellygirl: Hiya. Thanks so much.

Herbie: Thanks so much. Let me say that you are one awesome, handsome and articulate golden retriever.

Rosa: Thanks so much!

Frederico: For the record, Alix resents having to eat organic kibble twice a day, everyday. Everytime I put down her bowl of food in front of her, she looks at it with disinterest and looks up at me looking like she’s thinking, “What? This again??? How about some of the maple smoked bacon you’re having for breakfast?”

Hi there,

Btw, forgot to mention that I get very inspired by your photography! I linked your site to mine, as it is a great inspiring source! Is it you or the camera? 😉 ahahah. In a previous post, I had to mention you as a fav for food photography!

my dog (shi tzu) loves to eat veggies. especially carrots and red peppers. as for that recipe – it looks delicious (and i live in milan)!

You have just described our other cat, Bella, perfectly in writing about Sascha!

The osso bucco & risotto look great – I fell like I have to try it after reading TWO posts on it in one week.

I generally serve risotto on its own -maybe I’m lazy- but I know the pairing with osso bucco works very well and I should try it this way as well. And you are really helping in this matter with this very inspiring picture!

Thank you! Can I link you? Looking forward to more great food and great pics!

Herbie says thanks for the compliments too, but he’ll like it even better if you have more food.

He’s one greedy dog!

CH & S: hahaha! So i guess all dog owners are the same afterall… Poor pooches have to witness their owners savour juicy steaks while they eat that manufactured stuff..
and here i was thinking…CH made risotto for his dog… hahaha..

Gwenda: Thanks!

Bea: Thanks for the link. I certainly hope it’s more me than the camera 😉

Babe_KL: Yah. Odd coincidence, no?

B: Oh wow, from a Milan-resident, that’s high praise. Thanks.

Cin: Sounds like quite a cat. Yah, seems like osso buco is the food of the week in ye olde blogosphere.

Flo: Risotto on its own is great too. I totally agree. Thanks for the kind words on the photo.

Herbie: Be my guest!

Fred: Well, Sascha certainly wishes we had fed her the whole pot.

Coffee81: Alix says thanks but Sascha’s now sulking.

Ivonne: Thanks so much.

Stanley: Yup, a classic pair… like Laurel and Hardy, Abbot and Costello…

Tabehodai: Um, don’t think so.

This is almost the same recipe for risotto that my mom got from my grandmother, and that I have requested (which I somehow pronounced as “RIZZ-ought”) with fried chicken for my birthday every single year since I was 4! Thanks for helping me figure out its real name!

Your precious princesspa is one lucky poochie! Maybe she’d also fancy the tinest bit of Bistecca Fiorentina one of these days too …

Like B’s doggie – Olga loves organic veggies too (maybe it’s to do with Italian canines)

Coffee81: Sascha’s always a tad sulky… unless we’re feeding her or giving her a back rub. Forgot to say that she’s a real massage-slut as well as a food-slut. 😉

Anonymous: Risotto with fried chicken? That sounds marvelously sinful!

S*: I’m sure she’d LOVE some bistecca fiorentina. But that might kill her. Heh heh.

Hi Chubby Hubby, I have just found your blog.
What a beauty your Sascha is and what a nice recipe! It is an interesting recipe with orange zest, I will try it this way. I always prepare it with polenta instead of the traditional risotto. My dogs always share with us the ossobuco part but they are not so keen on the sides, lol.

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