Gazzani Carnaroli (Risotto)Print This Page
With origins in the Lombardy and Piedmont regions, rice is taken as seriously in northern Italy as egg pasta in Emilia-Romagna and mozzarella in Campania. Carnaroli is the optimal choice for making risotto, and is categorized as superfino, which is the longest grain among Italian rice categories.
Gazzani’s Carnaroli rice is grown in sandy soil—typical of the region and one of the reasons rice flourishes here—and irrigated with natural spring water, which Gazzani promotes as a “totally uncontaminated process.” Rice is dried in the hull for at least three months, which pulls some liquid out of it. Consequently, it is able to absorb a lot of liquid (and flavor) during the cooking process while still maintaining its structure.
A well-prepared risotto will have both structure and creaminess. If you look at a grain of Carnaroli rice, you will see a transparent outer shell and an opaque center the Italians call “the pearl.” The outer layer of starch dissolves easily as the rice cooks, lending creaminess to the risotto. Meanwhile, the inner pearl keeps its structure, making the risotto “al dente” as well.
Here, Gazzani suggests a preparation for its Carnaroli rice:
Risotto with asparagus and prosciutto
Extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot or onion, finely diced
10 oz Carnaroli rice
2 lb white asparagus (only the stalks; the points can be used for
an appetizer or side dish)
Vegetable or chicken broth
3.5-5 oz prosciutto crudo, cut into 1-inch strips
3/4 cup parmigiano reggiano, finely grated
2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
After removing the tips, peel the asparagus and dice into 1/4-inch pieces. Sauté the shallot in the olive oil. Add the rice and mix for 30 seconds over the heat. Add enough white wine to break up the rice from the bottom of the pan and let it evaporate almost completely. Add the asparagus and 1-2 cups of broth at a time, as needed, as the rice cooks over medium heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, about 20 minutes. When the rice is three-fourths cooked through, stir in the prosciutto. When the rice is cooked through, remove from heat and add the Parmesan and butter.
Stir to combine, taste for salt and pepper (remembering prosciutto is salty), and serve immediately.