Thom's Recipe File
is a traditional
Italian dish made with a suitable variety of
rice such as
or Vialone Nano.
one of the most common ways of
rice in Italy.
It originated in North Italy, specifically Eastern
(where the Vialone Nano comes from) where rice paddies
are abundant. It is one of the pillars of
When risotto is cooked, the rice is first toasted briefly
in butter or olive oil until evenly coated and the rice starts to turn
translucent, before broth is added, one ladle at a time. While there are
several types of rice particularly suited for use in risotto, perhaps the
most popular, due to a high starch content in the rounded grains, is
Arborio, which produces a rich and creamy dish.
Properly cooked risotto will bring out the rich
creaminess of the rice's starches, while maintaining an
feel to each individual rice grain. This is achieved by stirring to loosen
the cooked starch molecules from the outside of the rice grains into the
surrounding liquid. Risotto is often traditionally finished by beating in a
mantecatura of lumps of cold butter and grated
cheese just before serving. The cheese is usually left out if the risotto is
served with fish or other seafood. A common mistake is to add cheese
(usually Parmesan) too soon; it can become grainy, oily and unpleasant
unless added just before serving due to the action of the heat on the
proteins and the release of the oils contained in the cheese.
Is Risotto Rice or Pasta?
The answer is a form of rice, although not the familiar
grain rices found in Asian cooking. True
risotto is created from one of three
forms of rice found in Europe: arborio,
carnaroli or vialone nano. Of the three,
arborio rice is the most commonly used variety for
To confuse matters a little, there is also a form of
pasta called orzo which looks like grains of rice.
Orzo is also used as a flavorful side dish in Mediterranean
cuisine and prepared with many of the same spices and
risotto. The difference is that
properly cooked risotto becomes a creamy blend, while orzo
tends to maintain individual grains similar to cooked Asian
Risotto is actually the name of
the finished dish, not the rice itself. To prepare
risotto, a cook must first obtain a
generous supply of arborio rice. Arborio rice is more of a
grain than a type of traditional white rice.