Risotto this weekend? Find out what is the best rice for risotto in this brand new post including the top 5 great alternatives for an awesome weekender!
Cooking risotto is usually regarded as a very complex process that required a high skill level. However, the truth is that once you get familiar with the requirements and technique, cooking this delicious meal will be a walk in the park. The first step is getting the best kind of rice.
Failure means that the creamy texture that is required will not be achieved. In this article, we will look at the best rice for making risotto. You will learn what other rice variants that you can use and also get insight on other fun risotto facts. Read on!
The Best Rice for Risotto
Arborio rice is the most common variant when making risotto. It is a short grain rice variant that originates from the town of Arborio, specifically in the Po Valley. Presently, it is also grown in some cities in the US such as California, Arkansas, and Missouri.
Once the grains are cooked, they are creamier than other rice varieties and this fact has highly contributed to the reason why many people prefer using it while making the risotto.
Arborio is high in amylopectin starch and the grains are round in appearance. The taste is somewhat starchy but blends well with flavors from other meals when combined.
This type of rice usually goes through less milling than other rice types so that it retains a larger percentage of its starch content.
Top 5 Risotto Alternatives
All risotto rice variants have several things in common; they are medium to short grains, they are plump and finally, they have high amylopectin levels. Conversely, other rice types contain the less sticky starch known as amylase and this is why the result is light and separate cooked grains.
Short grain rice is known to have high starch content and absorbs less liquid. Other best tasting rice variants can be used to make risotto include:
The Carnaroli is a favorite for many chefs around the world. Its superior quality has placed it above the fray when it comes to making risotto. In fact, many risotto lovers call it the ‘caviar of rice.’
It is also known as “the King of rice” or “superfino” rice. It is, however, more resistant to overcooking than the other types of rice used to prepare risotto. However, it makes up for this by giving the best and creamiest texture.
Further, it is gluten-free and has a nutty flavor that complements other meals that accompany the risotto.
Developed in 1945 as a result of crossing Lencino and Vialone Nano, Carnaroli is a medium grain rice variant that is gown in Novara, Pavia as well as Vercelli in the Nothern Italy sections.
It is regarded highly due to its resilience during the whole cooking process. It is able to retain the shape of the grain better than the rest of the risotto rice types including the Arborio rice.
Baldo closely resembles Arborio in the level of starchiness as well as its shape. It cooks pretty quick and does not need as much time as the other rice types.
It is also a cross between a rice type known as Stirpe 136 and Arborio Rice. Baldo has very thick grains with a structure that encourages absorption of the broth or stock while preparing the risotto.
The high amylose content that goes as high as 20.5 % is relatively high as compared to other short grain rice variants.
The amylopectin content is 79.5%, which consists of the sticky starch that helps the rice to gelatinize while cooking.
Roma is a short-grain Italian rice type that results in a creamy risotto once cooked. It has the ability to absorb just the right amount of liquid and give your risotto the texture that it needs.
Roma rice is not as popular as the other rice variants. However, it is one of the most widely and cheaply available variants.
Further, it is more forgiving to cook your risotto with as long you pay keen attention while cooking it so that it gives you the best risotto result.
4. Cal Riso
Calriso is a hybrid of California and Italian rice types. This one is also similar to Arborio in the way that it cooks. Calriso expands more than Arborio and also absorbs more liquid while cooking it.
Cal Riso is a medium-grain while Arborio is short-grain so there is quite a difference in size but when it comes to texture, both can be quite similar.
The best thing to do when cooking with Cal Riso is to keep stirring until the rice consistency is closer to that of Arborio rice. plus of course, Cal Riso is cheaper than Arborio!
5. Vialone Nano
As its name ‘nano’ suggests, this rice variant is small, pearly and fine. It is grown in Veneto, Italy and is strictly required to be produced without any chemical inclusions.
Vialone Nano is less sticky and requires a high level of precision during preparation otherwise the risotto will not turn out, as it should.
Vialone Nano is an Italian medium-grain classified under the semifino rice variants. It stems from the Japonica group and has been grown in the Italian regions since 1937.
This rice type was a cross between Nano and Vialone rice, which results in its dwarf appearance. Further, the grains are round and have a pronounced tooth that finishes off with a round tip.
When cooking, the center of the grain retains its al dente texture making it perfect for your risotto.
Remember, you should not wash risotto before you cook it. This is because you risk washing out all the starch that gives it its creamy consistency.
Follow the following recipe to ensure that your risotto turns out great:
What You’ll Need:
- Broth/stock such as fish, chicken, fish
- 2 Garlic Cloves
- 1 head of celery
- large onion
- A handful of Parmesan cheese
- Unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 wine glasses of dry white wine or dry white vermouth
- 1 cup of risotto rice
How To Cook:
- Heat the stock/broth. Peel and chop the garlic, celery, and onion finely.
- Saute the garlic, celery, and onion in olive oil over medium-low heat until translucent. Ensure that the pot you are using distributes heat evenly.
- Add the rice to the sauteed mixture. Toast it lightly while stirring constantly over low-medium heat. Ensure that you don’t brown the rice.
- Once the rice is translucent around the edges, add your wine and stir until most of it has been absorbed by the rice.
- Now, add your hot broth and continue stirring until the broth/stock has been absorbed. Keep adding the broth until you notice that the rice is no longer absorbing it.
- Keep stirring until the rice is tender. Your risotto should not dry out. Ensure that you have enough stock to keep adding it until you attain the right texture.
- Finally, remove from the heat and add your butter. Stir it in then add the parmesan cheese for more creaminess.
Check out this video on how to cook this delicious Italian rice dish!
Risotto is a timeless dish that will never really go out of style. I hope you have learned the rice variants that you can use to make your risotto spectacular.
Have any more tips and tricks you can share? Tell us about them in the comment box below!