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Jun 12, 2008 09:16 AM

What can I do with a jar of saffron?

It's worth its weight in gold. I've read its fabled history and people have surely died for it. It figures in Greek myth and in medieval times wars were fought over it. (e.g. the "Saffron War") But someone gave me a very small jar of saffron threads and I don't know what to do with it! What preparation, dish or recipe best brings out its legendary flavour? (It seems a waste to throw it in some rice.) I've done a search on this board and found references to its subtle, floral note. I want to taste that!

It's the stuff of legend; see

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  1. It goes really well in kheer (rice or vermicelli pudding.) I just use Madhur Jaffrey's recipe and add some saffron as well as a few white raisins. You definitely know it's there.

    FWIW- I don't think it's a waste to use it in rice (as a side dish) at all. Actually, the one time I 'overdid it' with saffron was in saffron rice (the upside being that at least it was a good learning experience)- it's amazing the fine line between being subtle to overpowering :)

    1. Two of my recent favorites are Hopkinson's saffron mashed potatoes, and saffron mussel soup. Let me know if you'd like recipes. Paella of course is a classic option, and lots of posts about it on the COTM threads this month.

      5 Replies
      1. re: MMRuth

        I'd love to see the saffron mussel soup recipe. thanks!

        1. re: michele cindy

          I'll try to paraphrase tonight. Meanwhile, here's my report and photos:

          1. re: MMRuth

            Saffron Soup with Mussels, paraphrased from Hopkinson's Roast Chicken and Other Stories:

            1/2 cup butter
            2 large onions, finely chopped
            2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
            2 T Pernod
            1/2 bottle dry white wine (750 ml bottle)
            1 bay leaf
            1 thyme sprig
            1 cup light chicken stock
            2 1/4 pounds cleaned mussels
            2 waxy all purpose potatoes, diced
            1 tsp saffron threads
            salt & pepper
            1/2 cup heavy cream
            2 tarragon sprigs, leaves only, finely chopped
            lemon juice to taste
            croutons, to serve

            Melt butter and add onions and garlic, cooking until "pale golden". Add Pernod, "allow to froth", add white wine and herbs. After it comes to a boil, simmer for 15 minutes, gently, without a lid. Add stock and heat again.

            In a large pot, put the mussels and strain the soup over them, reserving the solids. Bring to a boil until mussels are "just" open. Drain, keep the liquid. Strain liquid through cheesecloth or fine sieve into the pot you used to make the soup. (I was about to skip this step, but am glad I did not as there was some sand/grit etc.) Add the solids to the broth, remove bay leaf and thyme, add potatoes, saffron, salt and pepper, bring to the boil. Simmer until the potatoes are tender, then keep warm.

            Shell mussels, add to soup, heat with cream and tarragon, add lemon juice to taste. Adjust seasoning if needed, serve with croutons.

        2. re: MMRuth

          Here's a link to the mashed potato recipe:

          Though, in the book, he calls for letting them sit for 30 minutes to really let the saffron flavor develop - maybe that was something he added when he wrote his book.

        3. Just read the wiki link Brian S provided. Based on the article, I say you should take a bath in it. :)

          1. Classic seafood risotto. Pound cake. Scrambled eggs. But do go easy, less is more.

            1 Reply
            1. re: LJS

              Oh, and of course, osso bucco with risotto milanese (I think ...) - a bit of a heavy dish for the summer, though.

            2. Sunday Suppers at Lucques has a saffron chicken recipe that is yummy! I didn't find a link for it, but this is another one I have bookmarked.


              2 Replies
              1. re: ElissaInPlaya

                That sounds wonderful! (They all do!!) Is the saffron chicken recipe you can't find the recipe halfway down this page?


                1. re: Brian S

                  Yes - this looks about the same. Although it does say "adapted" , it looks exactly the same to me. Make sure you take the time to marinate the chicken.