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Risotto

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For several times now, and from several different sources, I've heard that carnaroli(sp?) rice is far better than arborio. Is there a great difference? If so, what is/are the differences? Differences in price? Any recommendations as far as brands? I make risotto all the time and I've very interested.

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  1. It's not a matter of better. It's different. There are three primary types of rice used for risotto. Arborio, Vialone Nano (which is most often used in Venice and the Veneto) and Carnaroli. In that order, they get progressively looser, creamier and more "soupy". And yes, the difference between Arborio and Carnaroli is very significant. I've never watched prices that carefully when I buy them, but I know the Italian grocery next door to me carries all three from the same producer, and the price is the same. It's a very everyday Italian brand, however, and I don't know that that applies to premium brands.

    1. From what I read arborio is the least favourite of the rices for risotto. I buy Carnaroli (supposed to be the highest grade) at an Italian grocer and it is way more expensive than arborio and I find a real difference in the finished product.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Deborah

        It is, indeed, very different. But saying that Carnaroli rice is "better" is like saying that fresh pasta is "better" than dry or filet mignon is "better" than short ribs. It's a snobbish need to stratify ingredients based on a perceived "value" rather than understanding that different types are better for different applications and seeking to use the best ingredient for that particular dish.

        I don't mean to suggest that there aren't ingredients with little value. Just that when it comes to risotto, calling one type of rice (at least among those three) "superior" is seeking to create relative value where there is none. There are dishes where I'd choose Arborio over Carnaroli for many reasons that have nothing to do with economy.

      2. Carnaroli is a comapratively new variety, a cross of Vialone with a Japanese rice. According to Marcella Hazan, it contains enough soft starch to produce a very creamy risotto and enough tough starch to remain firmer than other varieties. In my local shops it's more expensive than Vialone, but it does produce a superior risotto.

        3 Replies
        1. re: JoanN

          When one makes risotto with either Vialone, or Carnaroli, is the timing different from Arborio,? and does one have to make any other adjustments (ingredients, amount of liquid etc), or is it about the same?

          1. re: ChowFun_derek

            With the caveats that I've never done a side-by-side and that I judge both timing and the amount of liquid to add by tasting, I think they're pretty much about the same. I start tasting at about 20 minutes and usually need to cook for an additional 5 to 10 minutes no matter which rice I'm using.

            1. re: JoanN

              Many thanks...trust myself....

        2. I like vialone the best, although it's the hardest to find where I live.