Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world.
150 flowers and substantial labor are needed to produce a single gram of saffron; it's only as affordable as it is because harvesters aren't paid much at all.
Saffron is a spice derived from the flower Crocus sativus, commonly known as Saffron Crocus. Saffron crocus grows to 20–30 cm (8–12 in) and bears up to four flowers, each with three vivid crimson stigmas, which are the distal end of a carpel. More than 100,000 of these are needed for one pound of the spice. Saffron's aroma is often described by connoisseurs as reminiscent of metallic honey with grassy or hay-like notes, while its taste has also been noted as hay-like and sweet.
The Crocus sativus stays in bloom only for about three to four weeks. The stigmas have to be harvested by hand, when the stigmas are dried, they are called saffron. The higher the coloring strength of the saffron, the less you have to use in a dish to achieve the required effect. The flowering period of saffron starts during middle of late October and lasts until the second week of November. However, the number of saffron flowers and the time of blooming in any year are dependent upon the temperature prevalent in spring and autumn and upon the amount of rainfall.
- 3/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
- 2 cup long-grain rice, uncooked
- 4 whole cloves
- 6 whole cardamom seeds
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups vegetable broth, boiling
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- Cover rice with cold water and set aside to soak for 30 minutes.
- Soak saffron threads in 2 tablespoons of just below boiling water.
- In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.
- Add cardamom, cinnamon and cloves.
- Fry for two minutes while stirring.
- Add onion and saute, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.
- Stir in rice, reduce heat to low, simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Pour in the boiling broth and stir in the saffron and salt.
- Cover and cook until the rice is cooked and all the liquid has been absorbed, about 40 minutes.
Saffron Chicken and Sausage Ragu
- 1 generous pinch of saffron threads
- 8 oz linguica (Portuguese-style sausage) diced
- 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1" chunks
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 2 tablespoons garlic, finely chopped
- 3 cups onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 4 cups tomatoes, seeded and diced (or canned diced tomatoes)
- pepper to taste
- 3 cups white wine
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Heat oil in large pot over medium heat and add sausage.
- Cook, stirring occasionally, until edges begin to color in 5-10 minutes.
- Add onion and garlic before covering and cooking for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion is quite soft.
- Sprinkle paprika over the onion mixture, stir and cook for 1 minute.
- Add chicken, salt and pepper, stir to coat, cook for 5 minutes while stirring.
- Add wine and increase heat to high, cook until wine is reduced by about 1/3, about 8 minutes.
- Stir in broth, tomatoes, saffron and parsley, reduce heat to maintain simmer and cook, uncovered, until chicken is tender and sauce is thickening, 1-1 1/4 hours.
- Season with more pepper if desired.
- Dish will remain fresh in airtight container and refrigerated for up to 5 days, or can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Saffron St Lucia Buns
- 3/4 teaspoon saffron
- raisins for garnish
- beaten egg, for brushing
- 2 lbs wheat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1.7 oz yeast, fresh
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 1/2 cups milk, lukewarm
- 6 oz butter, melted
- Place milk and butter into a medium bowl.
- Grind the saffron, along with a pinch of sugar, with a mortar and pestle before stirring into the milk and butter.
- In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in a little of the lukewarm butter mixture, before adding the remaining butter mixture, sugar and salt.
- Gradually add enough flour, almost all, to make a workable dough.
- Knead for 10 minutes by hand or 5 by mixer with dough hook.
- Shape into ball, sprinkle with a little flour, and cover with a cloth.
- Permit to rise in a warm spot for 30-45 minutes.
- Transfer dough to floured surface, knead in additional flour if dough is sticky.
- Shape as desired into buns, braids or lengths.
- Place on lined baking sheets and permit to rise again for 30-45 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Brush buns with beaten egg, then press raisins lightly into dough.
- Bake until golden and risen, or until inserted toothpick comes out dry. (Small buns take 8-10 minutes, larger lengths and braids take 15-20 minutes.)
- Cool buns on a rack under a cloth.