When properly cooked, Arborio rice has a crunchy center and a creamy outer texture. Making perfect risotto is an art. Mark Strausman, chef and owner of New York City's Campagna, says that when you get it right, you'll know it.
In a medium-size, heavy soup pot, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. When it foams, add onion and saffron, and cook, stirring, until onion is transparent and saffron is "melted" about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, add rice, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until well coated, about 1 minute.
Add wine, and simmer gently until the liquid is absorbed, 3 to 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup chicken stock, stir, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat, adding 1/2 cup stock at a time, until the rice is cooked through but still firm, 20 to 25 minutes total.
Add the remaining tablespoon butter and the Parmesan cheese. Mix well, add salt to taste, and serve immediately, sprinkled with parsley, if desired.