Risotto - Gourmet Guide

June 12, 2019 | By Dave Mattingly

Risotto is an Italian rice dish, made with meat, vegetable or fish stock and commonly additional ingredients such as Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, butter, saffron or onion. Arabs introduced rice to Spain prior to the 10th century and it was found that Italy had the best humid climate and flat topography to grow short-grain rice, most likely during the 14th century. Rice became in an important food in the Italian culture, and the Genoa and Venice regions found large profits in the sale of rice. Yet it was in Milan, Italy that Risotto found its origins. Both rice and slow-cooking meals such as Ossobucco, a dish made of veal, vegetables, wine and broth, were popular. The principles of slow-cooking were applied to rice and when combined with stock, butter, wine, onions, Parmesan cheese and spices such as saffron, Milan’s famous dish, Risotto alla Milanese, was born. Served alone or alongside Ossobucco, Risotto alla Milanese was found to be an excellent use of short-grain rice, a variety of rice that gives Risotto a rich and creamy consistency.

There are many variations to Risotto, and depending on the region, different varieties of rice are used in preparing the dish. Four basic ingredients are key to an impressive risotto: Italian rice, vegetables, broth and seasoning. Round starchy Italian rices, such as Arborio, Vialone Nano and Carnaroli are preferred to make an excellent Risotto.

Arborio Rice for Risotto: This popular Italian short grain rice originates in the Po River Valley of Italy. When cooked, Arborio rice grains are firm and chewy excellent in Risottos and rice pudding.

Vialone Nano Rice for Risotto: Popular in the Veneto and Mantova regions, Vialone Nano makes a deliciously smooth and creamy risotto. The round grains retain a firm texture while remaining soft, making it perfect to combine with rich ingredients like champagne, truffles or saffron.

Carnaroli Rice for Risotto: Rich in starch, this medium grain rice is easy to cook as it holds its shape during slow-cooking and absorbs the flavors of the other added ingredients. Perfect for all types of risottos.

Risotto is made by cooking rice in a soffrito, a vegetable mixture of carrots, celery and onions with oil or butter. Wine may also be added for additional flavor. Then broth is slowly stirred into the mixture, which allows the starches to be released by the rice, and creates a creamy smooth consistency. Finishing ingredients are then added such as Parmigina Reggiano, vegetables and spices such as saffron. Risotto is often served today with additional ingredients such as meats, seafood, truffles, asparagus, mushrooms, pumpkins and even exotic ingredients such as squid ink or frogs' legs. Risotto also is made sweet in the Italian strawberry Risotto.

Imported from Italy, igourmet has all the best Italian short grain Risotto rices, like Arborio, Carnaroli and Vialone Nano. When searching for gourmet food online, look no further than igourmet.com.