When it comes to cultures where rice is a staple, there aren’t many that can compare to the approach the Italians take when it comes to the humble grain, and yet, even amongst its humility there is royalty, the carnaroli. Hailed as the “king of rice”, there is a certain reason that this grain is so prized and praised.
Traditional Italian Risotto Rice
One of the most common rice used to make risotto would be the Arborio, a short grain Italian rice which is generally favoured because of its starchy content. However, Arborio is only one of the many rices that is used to make risotto. Some may choose to use different starchy rice such as the Baldo, a quicker to cook variety; Vialone nano, more similar to the Japanese rice that is preferred be Venetians; and the Calriso, a Californian-arborio hybrid.
Carnaroli, The King Of Rice
Carnaroli however, is in a league above the others. With its medium grain, the rice comes from Pavia, Novara and Vercelli in the north of Italy. It is this very variety of rice that retains its shape while still having a high starch content. What makes it special above the others is that it manages to maintain its medium grain shape when cooking, yet produces a creamy texture that you would normally find with Arborio, making it both firm and creamy. The longer grain also gives a better texture, as compared to short grain Arborio.
Rice For Risotto
For a good risotto, you would need to have a high amylose content. That is what gives the risotto its iconic creamy texture, which is why Arborio is generally favoured. However, it is only favoured because of it is more affordable, amongst other peculiar reasons. However, it does not give you the mouthfeel that you would get from harder grain rice. This is why Italian chefs specifically use these types of rice to make risotto, for that slow cooking, absorbent and creamy texture.
A Tale of Two Risottos
The best way to experience risottos are to not overcomplicate them, which is either served best with mushrooms as an elegant vegetarian dish, letting the perfume of the mushroom shine, or by presenting it as a seafood, another element that will let the cream of the rice speak for itself. Proteins like crab or prawns will emphasise the sweetness of the dish, letting the carnaroli shine with its creamy and firm texture, elevating the experience.
Risotto at Marini’s on 57
Marini’s on 57 is an Italian fine dining restaurant, and therefore focuses on delivering the best of experiences to its patrons, and when it comes to our risotto, we take that exact care. We only use carnaroli rice in our dishes such as the Risotto Ai Procini, our elegant gold leaf mushroom risotto, the Italian Degustation Risotto Ai Procini with black truffles, and the Risotto Fruitti di Mare, a saffron perfumed seafood risotto which comes as part of the Menu di Pesce. So at your next visit, do ask for the unique grain carnaroli risotto.