FROM BLACK & WHITE TO TECHNICOLOR (The Artusi’s way series n.2)

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It is known that back in times many spices were used for colouring purposes. It is also known that most of the dishes which are today regarded as iconic of a country’s cuisine happened to be created by chance or there are at least funny stories/legends behind them.

This is one of these stories.

Duomo di Milano

In 1574 Master glazier Valerio di Fiandra and his more promising disciples were commissioned some decorative works on the windows of the Duomo, the huge gothic cathedral right at the centre of Milan.

Amongst those disciples there was one everybody was so used to call “Zafferano (Saffron)” that only few people actually knew the glazier’s real name. And nickname didn’t go far from reality. In fact, Zafferano was famous for his almost maniacal but also incomparable ability in mixing scientifically the colours combinations . His secret? Mixing and balancing the different powders with a hint of saffron so to obtain the brightest and most vivid effects.


Colours noboby could ever get to reproduce. Valerio, proud Master but also jealous of his talented disciple, used to friendly pick on Saffron: – You put saffron everywhere my friend, one day you’ll  even manage to put it in a Risotto – the Master used to say.

And then it just happened that Saffron did it. 


When Saffron, as a joke, put a generous touch of the magic red powder in the risotto served at Valerio’s daughter wedding feast he couldn’t know a couple of things though.

Firstly, the joke failed and Saffron actually made the buffet even more successful.
In fact the guests were both horrified and thrilled at the sight of huge trays of yellow rice stepping into the reception hall but then, one by one, they started approaching the commonal plates and not even a grain of rice was left behind.

Secondly, it happened something Saffron really couldn’t even imagine. By his joke, the skilled glazier created the basis for one of the most popular dishes of the Italian cuisine: Risotto alla Milanese (Milanese style risotto).


Following the original recipe, which Artusi gave us from his best-selling recipe book, this time we try and show our guests that Italian cuisine, as in the story of Saffron, is not only about the classic red, white and green national flag colours but also, and mostly,is a whole range of vivacity and vivid colours that make our grandma’s and our grandma’s grandmas cooking appealing to the eye just before your mouth starts watering and you gotta sit down and eat. Just eat.

And now, as usual, it’s my pleasure to invite you to our second “Artusi’s way” night where you will be served:



| BLACK & WHITE “Seppe al Nero” is a traditional Venetian dish made from baby squids slowly cooked in wine, herbs, garlic and their own ink. Served on toasted bread. Wicked.

| GREEN | “Broccoli Polenta with mussels” is chef’s twist on the Calabrese green Polenta. We stick with the colours but change the topping with some juicy and meaty mussels cooked in wine, chilli and garlic with a sprinkle of Pecorino to add on flavour;

| PURPLE | “Lasagna pulp” is a BackDoor signature dish. Layers of homemade pasta alternate to layers of Radicchio lettuce, Mascarpone and Gorgonzola cream sauce. Something to try before you die;

| YELLOW | “Risotto alla Milanese” Artusi’s original recipe places bone marrow slowly cooked in tomato right in the middle of the risotto once plated. That’s why we love tradition;

| TECHNICOLOR | “Bollito” in Italian literally means “hard boiled” but what it means to an Italian when it comes at eating is pork cuts (belly, shank, loin) slowly braised in wine and broth. We lay the Bollito on a bed of caramelized onion and serve it in 3 styles: with 12yo aged balsamic vinegar and sage butter, with salsa verde and Bramley apple jam and with Mostarda (mixed fruit pickled in mustard essence) from Cremona;

| SECRET DESSERT | ORANGE – That’s the colour of our secret dessert :D!

…and if you want to know more about Saffron  JOIN US FOR OUR NEXT SUPPERCLUB?.


The Backdoor Kitchen Dispatch

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One response to “FROM BLACK & WHITE TO TECHNICOLOR (The Artusi’s way series n.2)

  1. Pingback: Toasting the lunar new year | backdoor47·

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