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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Italian Risotto

Italian risotto became another typical dish of the Italian food. The Italian rice is known for its high quality and is used by the great chefs worldwide to prepare delicious risotto recipes.The Italian risotto became known as another Italian typical dish, even if rice isn’t original from Italy as pasta.

Rice is a cereal as corn or wheat, but less fat and is eaten by half world population. The Italian rice is appreciated for its high quality and today is widely exported as a gourmet product.

The Italian rice is classified in 4 groups, the COMMON rice (riso comune) has small and round grains and its cooking time is between 12 and 13 minutes. Ideal for broth or vegetables soups.

The HALF-THIN semifino type has round medium length grains. It takes a bit longer to cook (13 to 15 minutes) and are most used for antipasti, unique dishes, cold and warm.

The THIN fino type are tapered grains that need about 14 to 16 minutes to cook. Finally the SUPERTHIN superfino kind has big and long shaped grains, with a cooking time between 16 and 18 minutes and are specially indicated for risotto. The so known Arborio, Carnaroli or Boldo are part of this category and are the favorite ones of the big chefs.

The parboiled rice is often underestimated. It is done using an antique procedure used by Egyptians. They used to marinate it with hot water and dry it under the sun to better conserve it. This method was re-discovered by Americans after the II World war because it gives guarantees under the nutritional and long conservation side.

Today, with the new technologies, the rice is treated with steam at high temperatures and quickly dried on an air mattress. This natural practice jellies the starch, making it resistant and keeping many of the precious substances present on the surface pass to the inside of the grain.

So, the parboiled grain is richer of nutrients, more resistant, conserves better and easier to prepare as it takes only 10/12 minutes to cook and do not overcook.

One of the most known Italian risotto recipe is the Saffron one, also called in Italy as Milan risotto, as it is typical from Milan area. It is a tasty and delicate dish that has its strong point in saffron powder.

How to cook a Saffron risotto:

You’ll need (4 people)
400gr of rice (reading above to make your choice of rice)
2 spoons of extra virgin olive oil
Half onion (not chopped)
Approx. 1 liter of broth
3 or 4 spoons of grated good quality parmesan
2 spoons of good quality butter
1 bag of saffron

How to do it:

Put the oil inside the pan, turn on the gas and add the onion. Let it color a little and then add the rice. Mix it and let it fry for a moment.

Then add some broth (about 2 cups), mix it and lower the gas. Keep adding broth as it dries, always mixing well at each time.

Salt it, paying attention to the kind of broth you’re using. If you use cubes, add a little salt because cubes are very salty.

Easy Tips:

Usually you will need the double quantity of broth comparing to rice quantity. If you measure a cup of rice, you will then need 2 cups of broth)

After 10 minutes, taste it to see if it’s done. When it’s quite done, add the 2 spoons of butter, the grated parmesan cheese and the saffron. Turn off the gas, mix it all very well and close the pan for a couple of minutes.

Then you just have to open it, put your risotto on your serving plate and…enjoy! By Ana Maria da Costa

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