Bone Marrow Risotto with Parsley Salad (Risotto Milanese with Gremolata)

Risotto Milanese! All the chefs out there make it seem like it’s difficult and requires special talent to make. It’s not and it doesn’t. Trust me. I ain’t no chef and I can do it.


In my opinion, it’s really hard to mess up, and all you need is a little bit of patience and lots of broth. Oh, and the right kind of rice. Definitely the right kind of rice.

Bone Marrow Risotto with Parsley Salad (Risotto Milanese with Gremolata)

The reason risotto is the best thing ever is that you can add whatever you want to it. You can get super creative or just throw what you got into it. Lots of spinach laying around? Spinach risotto yo.

You got some mushrooms that are about to cry if they don’t get used?

You guessed it; mushroom risotto will fix that situation right up. I also love that I can get lots of gelatin and mineral rich broth into my gob at the same time.

So, if you aren’t a huge fan of soups (what the?), then you can still reap the nutritional benefits with a yummy risotto.

Grass-fed marrow bones for risotto milanese

But you’re here for the reason bone marrow risotto is the most awesome of the awesome risottos ever risotto. Risotto is a verb. Ask any Italian. Well, if you have ever tasted roasted bone marrow, then you know how delicious and decadent bone marrow is. It’s flavor is like butter plus beef plus an ocean of umami.

Translation: Very rich and unctuously good. Pair that with creamy rice and you have a delicious meal that can go with the simple protein of your choice. When it’s warmer I like to serve this rich risotto with a lighter protein, like broth poached shrimp or fish.

In the cooler months I love love love me some bone marrow risotto with a braised beef shank. Year round, I serve it with gremolata, which is just a simple salad of parsley, lemon peel, and garlic. It’s a great zesty foil to the rich and creamy risotto.

So let’s talk about the rice first. Straight up carnaroli rice. Get some. I’ve tried several types of risotto rice and it’s my absolute favorite. Carnaroli gives you the creamiest risotto. There’s no need to cheat and add cream.

I know cream is delicious, but that still doesn’t make it right. That’s why many risotto recipes that use arborio rice call for cream, because arborio rice isn’t as starchy. Less starch equals less creamy goodness. Arborio also isn’t as absorbent as carnaroli. The right kind of rice will make risotto easy peasy.

Empty marrow bones. Save them for broth!

Now let’s talk about that marrow. Lots of butcher shops can get marrow bones for you. They are readily available online, too. Try to request or find grass-fed and if you can, ask for them to be cut lengthwise. You can still harvest the marrow out if they are cut into tree stumps, it’s just easier to scoop out if cut lengthwise.

The amount of marrow inside the bones can vary, so I would buy a little more than you think you need to make sure you have enough. If there is any extra marrow, you can freeze up to two months for future use. Soaking the marrow bones in salted water overnight (24 hours, changing the water a few times) will draw most (but not all) of the blood out of the bones, improving the flavor and texture.

You will know when the bones are ready to go because they will no longer look reddish-pink, but instead look creamy whitish with just a hint of pink. Wipe any blood collected at the surface off and pat dry, then harvest out the bone marrow with a small spoon or butter knife. All of the empty bones should be kept to make a future batch of broth, no ifs, ands, or marrow stumps.

And let’s not forget the broth. You need the good stuff here. Here are a few tips on making the best broth possible. I will never shut up about pressure cookers. I swear this to you.

Here is a list of the kitchen tools/pantry/freezer items I used to make this dish:

  • Microplane grater/zester – great for zesting citrus, grating garlic, ginger, and hard cheese
  • Ladle – 4 oz capacity
  • Carnaroli risotto rice
  • Saffron. I’m also a huge fan of Penzy’s selection of saffron.
  • Both grass-fed. Bone marrow risotto with poached shrimp. Sprinkled with gremolata and parmesan cheese

Bone Marrow Risotto with Parsley Salad (Risotto Milanese with Gremolata) Recipe

Serves: 6 Rich, decadent, and creamy. Those are a few of the words that will come to mind when you taste this heavenly risotto.
Prep Time 20 min
Cook Time 50 min
Prep Time 20 min
Cook Time 50 min

For the Parsley Salad (Gremolata)

  • 1 cup Italian parsley, chopped finely
  • Lemon zest from 2 organic lemons, done easily with a microplane grater
  • 1 small clove of garlic, grated

For the Bone Marrow Risotto

  • 1.5-2 pounds of beef marrow bones, yielding 2 ounces of chopped raw marrow
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups carnaroli risotto rice
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 teaspoon saffron
  • 8 cups warmed beef or chicken stock
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon cold butter
  • Parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)

The day before, prep bone marrow

  • Soak your marrow bones in salty water. Cover the bones completely in water and add 3 tablespoons of salt. Store in the fridge for 24 hours. Change water 2-3 times, adding more salt with every change.
  • Dry bones and remove marrow with a spoon or butter knife. Reserve 2 oz for this recipe and store any extra in the freezer for up to 2 months.

To make Parsley Salad (Gremolata)

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix thoroughly. Store in the fridge until risotto is complete.

To make Bone Marrow Risotto

  • Add chopped marrow to your pan over medium-high heat. Allow to soften and melt, chopping gently with a spoon as needed. It’s okay if it doesn’t all melt right away.
  • Add chopped onion and sauté in marrow fat for about 4 minutes. Lower heat as necessary; don’t let the onions brown.
  • Add rice and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add the wine and stir in saffron threads. Turn up the heat and cook until rice has almost absorbed all the liquid.
  • Add a ladle full of warm broth to the rice and allow it absorb, stirring every so often. Continue adding broth ladle by ladle and stirring until all 8 cups are incorporated. While you don’t need to be glued to the stove while you do this, it would be wise to keep an eye on the pan, adjusting heat as needed and stirring. It takes about 40 minutes for the rice to absorb all of the liquid.
  • Taste and add salt as needed.
  • When desired texture of rice is achieved (some like a a drier risotto, other more liquidy), stir in cold butter and remove from heat.
  • Serve with parsley salad, parmesan cheese (optional), and protein of choice.


  • Please Note: It is recommended that your marrow bones be soaked in salty water for 24 hours prior to cooking.

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