Why You Should Consider Using Carnaroli Rice In Your Next Risotto

Risotto is one of those dishes that blurs the lines between comfort and sophistication. Teeming with a satisfying richness, perfectly creamy risotto is something to marvel at. By far the most beloved way to cook rice in Italy, risotto originated in northern Italy and continues to reign in regions like Lombardy, Piedmont, and Veneto thanks to ideal rice growing conditions, notes Italy Magazine. While recipes may vary, the rice cooking procedure remains quite similar, as does the rice of choice. Though you might already be familiar with Arborio, that doesn't mean it's the only option. Dubbed the caviar of rice, per Cuisine At Home, you might want to try using Carnaroli rice in your next risotto.

To reiterate, risotto isn't a type of rice — it's a dish that's made by cooking rice. That said, while you may have been taught to always wash rice, think again. Since typical varieties like Arborio, Vialone Nano, or Carnaroli all boast a higher starch content, La Cucina Italiana explains that they shouldn't be rinsed. Doing this will deplete the rice grains of the very starches that make them vital in creating a velvety risotto. But, between the varieties, what makes Carnaroli the sweetheart of Italian chefs?

Its high starch content means creamier (and dreamier) risotto

Based on their various shapes and starch levels, the type of rice used in a risotto can greatly impact the texture of the final dish. For example, Cuisine at Home explains that wider Arborio grains will produce a thicker risotto, whereas less starchy Vialone Nano rice produces a wetter outcome. Carnaroli rice instead boasts the best of both worlds.

The result of crossbreeding the Vialone and the Leoncino varietals, Gustiamo explains that the large, tapered grains of Carnaroli rice better absorb liquid due to its starchier nature. Likewise, not only do the grains maintain their shape as they cook, but the rice is also notoriously praised for being less likely to be overcooked. The resulting risotto is airy and creamy, making it no wonder that Carnaroli is regularly referred to as the king of rice.

Although it isn't as widely available as Arborio, its unique characteristics make Carnaroli rice worth seeking out. As an added tip, Saveur recommends looking for packages marked "ai pestelli," which indicates that the rice was pared with a mechanical mortar and pestle, leaving the rice coated with a powder that increases its starch and will heighten the lusciousness of the dish. Just make sure not to stir your risotto too much.