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Question: What is the best rice for risotto?

Answer: The most crucial properties of a good risotto rice are high starch content and the ability to absorb liquid. Arborio rice has long been a traditional favorite and probably the best known rice for risotto-making.

However, there are actually a number of superfino-grade Italian rices with the high starch content that gives risotto its characteristic creaminess. All these varieties have short, plump grains that are not only suitable for risotto, but which are arguably superior to Arborio.

In stirred rice dishes, such as risotto, some of the starch is released, and it is this extra starch that creates the smooth, creamy texture. The trick is to use a rice that will absorb the liquid added to it without breaking apart or sticking together, thus retaining its consistency.

Carnaroli rice is an Italian variety that has short, plump grains like those of Arborio rice. Also, like Arborio rice, Carnaroli grains are high in starch content and, when cooked, have a creamy, saucelike consistency.

It is said that the trendy Italians, always on the lookout for the latest culinary craze, currently prefer Carnaroli because of its firm grain.

Vialone Nano is another favorite of this type. It has a medium grain, shorter and thicker than arborio, and is nearly impossible to overcook. Able to absorb more than twice its weight in liquid, Vialone Nano is perfect for creating a very hearty risotto. It also pairs nicely with fish, and is wonderful for making rice pudding.

In short, there is not a huge difference between any of these rices. As in most things, it is just a matter of taste.
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