Ask Sid: Arborio or Carnaroli Rice Best for Risotto?

November 26th, 2014

Ask Sid Cross
By Steven Jackson from USA (Arborio RiceUploaded by Schwäbin) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
By jlastras [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Question: I have an ongoing argument with a fellow chef whether arborio or carnaroli rice makes the best risotto.  Would you please settle this for us Sid?

Answer: Flattering of you to ask but not sure I can. Arborio is a shorter grain rice most widely available in North America. Carnaroli is a longer grain newer strain which is becoming ever more popular. Some of the keys to a successful risotto include starting with a good broth and the skill in crafting your desired rich creamy texture by the release of starches through long patient stirring. You need skill because you want the finished risotto to flow perfectly cooked so the rice grains and the liquid are not too separate yet not overcooked so that it becomes thick, soft and too dry. You don’t want oatmeal. With arborio you have to be extra careful not to overcook it while carnoroli seems “starchier” and is easier to work with to get that firm right texture. Vialone nano is another alternative for a shorter grain less starchy lighter style rice. At home we usually prefer and use carnoroli but both are capable of producing an outstanding risotto dish. On our visits to Alba we still find arguments among chefs there as to their preference though there is a growing trend for carnaroli!

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November 26th, 2014

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