For many years the only type of rice I associated with risotto was Arborio. This happened for two main reasons. First of all, Arborio, was the only type of rice available on our supermarket shelves. Secondly, my poor rice education kept me linking risotto with Arborio.
Today, after collecting information and experiences from my brother Karl, who has turned into an obsessive risotto fan, I became familiar with the Carnaroli and Vialone nano rice types.
Hence, I want to share with you the characteristics of these rice varieties.
The Carnaroli rice is considered superfine and one of the best rice types in Italy. It excellently retains its texture whilst cooking so it is ideal to create delicate risotto recipes. However, it can be easily combined with a variety of ingredients. Carnaroli was created following a cross-breed between the Vialone and the Leoncino rice type.
Its grains are large and consistent and can absorb well the flavours of the other added ingredients. The carnaroli rice is generally used for risottos, timbales, and salads
As Carnaroli rice reached our shores, I opted for a risotto with fennel and ricotta.
Coming to the other type, the Vialone nano, this is a variety which came to life around the 1930s in Verona and Mantova. The grains are medium sized and more rounded. It absorbs condiments well and although it increases in volume during cooking time it still keeps a firm texture and remains compact and soft. It is indicated for recipes which count on presentation like salads, risottos and rice accompaniment to fish dishes. In 2006, the Vialone nano rice obtained the IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta) certification.
With the Vialone nano variety I prepared a risotto with artichoke hearts and lemon.
Both varieties are impressively refined. The Carnaroli has a high amylose content thus it keeps its shape better, I prefer this type to create a charismatic risotto maybe combined with valuable ingredients like champagne, oysters, scallops, truffles, or saffron. Then, I find the Vialone nano more adaptable with chunkier ingredients such as pork, veal, pumpkin, artichokes and other vegetables.
Carnaroli and Vialone nano rice varieties have become a must in my larder and make part of my regular diet. I would suggest you try these rice varieties and create recipes for your family and guests, then come back to us with your feedback.