Much difference in Carnaroli or Vialone rice brands? Any preferences?
- maria lorraine Feb 22, 2013 12:21 AM
Would love to hear your thoughts on good brands of carnaroli and vialone nano.
Is there much difference in the amount of milky starch (amylopectin) that's exuded? Texture? Flavor? Mushiness?
Is Vialone Nano the best for a creamy risotto?
Does organic make a difference?
I use this type rice for several purposes. Just went through a box of Roland, but think there might be a better brand. I want to buy a big bag based on recommendation.
Primoriso, Acquerello, Lotus, Roland, others? Thanks.
I can't answer this question because the only kind of short grained rice readily available in our area is Arborio. That's what use for risotto, but I have heard of the two varieties.
I'm the risotto cook, and my wife demands creaminess. To achieve that I use lots of butter and Parmigiano Reggiano.
Where do you find the 2 varieties for which you want answers other than the internet?
Maria Lorraine, I have bought Carnaroli rice from Fromaggio Kitchen in Cambridge MA. All their Italian rice is imported from Italy. Here's a link to their on-line description of Carnaroli:
The Carnaroli I use is indeed very creamy and has a rich full bodied flavor. It's known as the caviar of Italian rices. The starch of the Carnaroli rice is the one most rich in amilose. But when I can't get to Formaggio I find that Aborio from TJ's is an adequate substitute, especially if I use my good, strong chicken stock, a sufficient amount of butter, a dry white wine, and a very good Pecorino Romano. Trader Joe's Aborio is imported from Italy.
Vialone nano is the preferred rice of the Veneto region. for some reason. It absorbs twice its weight in liquid so does create a creamy risotto. I've never used it, though. There's another risotto rice that's being introduced here... Baldo Rice. Apparently the grains are "sticker" than other rices. The last I know of is Padano. Padano and Vialone Nano are in the Italian classification group called Semifino, while Arborio, Baldo, and Carnaroli in the Superfino group which is the highest classification..
I can just add that for me, switching to Carnaroli rice transformed my risotto from suddenly starchy and clumpy, to creamy, individual grains of rice.
Vialone Nano did not have quite that result for me, but it still worked better than arborio.
Again, for me, Carnaroli made me want to try risotto at home again.
I use Acquerello, it comes in a tin can usually unless you get the vacuum sealed tins which resemble whole coffee bean products. I have tried about every arborio or close cousin I encounter. Acquerello is by far a superior product. American arborio is fine for last minute, when you are out of "the good stuff". My family loves risotto and we have it often enough to know the difference. Arborio never really gets to that creamy consistency of the carnaroli, the robust hearty texture and pure luxury. Quite frankly it is a pleasure bandit, the payoff does not sanction my time or infringement on other quality ingredients. Of course you can try and disguise it with "better stock, more butter, cream or more cheese" but at the end of the day, does that mean you initially chose flavorless stock? And skimped on butter or cheese? I think the answer is no, if you venture to ask the difference between risotto brands and types of grain quality, you are not cutting corners so to speak (in the kitchen anyway). As far as which Carnaroli brand has better footing? I would have to fold, when I found Acquerello I tried nothing else, as you cannot improve perfect. I can say, it is aged, does that make a difference in quality (as with so many other products) hmm, I guess it may, or why would you go through the trouble? The claim is when aged you can have creaminess and firm texture without mush. Team Acquerello for me! Enjoy your adventure!
Thanks for posting this. Do you have a link for the purchase of Acquerello?
As far as using better quality rice, and then using other ingredients that are not "better quality," I don't think anyone is suggesting that. The quality of all ingredients makes a difference in final result and its hedonic pleasure.
I agree that we can incrementally increase the quality of the dish and its flavor by boosting the quality of most ingredients in the dish: great rice (hence this thread I began), wonderful Parmigiano Reggiano, imported butter, great stock, great onion, and so forth.
But I am also an advocate that as a cook you get as close to perfection as possible, using as many ingredients in their highest quality form as you can. If the home cook must use canned or Tetra-pack stock in order to enjoy risotto, then so be it. It's better to make the dish and enjoy it than not make it because you do not have fresh homemade stock, IMO.