Carnaroli rice is an Italian rice particularly known as suitable for the preparation of risotto, a typical Italian dish. Many people consider Carnaroli risotto the best risotto.
But what is the story of Carnaroli? Is Carnaroli risotto the best risotto? Can you use Carnaroli rice only for the risotto recipe?
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CARNAROLI RICE: A LITTLE HISTORY
Carnaroli rice was born in the rice fields around Paullo, near Milan.
In 1945 Ettore De Vecchi, a rice grower, presented a new variety of rice: the Carnaroli.
Ettore De Vecchi worked many years to obtain the new variety of rice, making crossings in his fields of the Casello farm in Paullo.
He wanted to reach a variety not too tall (shorter than Vialone), resistant to lodging and with good resistance to cooking.
The new rice, Carnaroli rice, was born from the intersection of two varieties: the Vialone Nero rice – which had been discovered by his grandfather Achille in 1903, when he lived in Vialone – and the Lencino rice.
With Ettore’s death, the patent of the Carnaroli variety passed to his cousin Achille De Vecchi, born in Milan in 1939.
The De Vecchi family abandoned the production of rice, and Achille De Vecchi in 1983 gave the plant material in his possession to the Ente Nazionale Risi, so that the latter continued in conservative selection.
Since then, the Ente Nazionale Risi is the conservator of Carnaroli rice in purity.
CARNAROLI RICE: THE NAME
If Ettore De Vecchi got the new variety, why is rice called Carnaroli? Where does the name Carnaroli come from?
We found a video interview with Achille De Vecchi, which explains the origin of the name! The water regulator’s surname was Carnaroli. He saw Ettore De Vecchi’s commitment, and the fact that he did not arrive at the desired result made him say: “Dutur, se fèm?", that translates: “Doctor, what do we do?".
Ettore Carnaroli told him to be patient, and that if he could find the variety he had in mind he would give the new rice his name.
The video is in Italian. We hope you can anyway enjoy the content!
CARNAROLI RICE CULTIVATION
The Carnaroli rice cultivation area has always been rather limited; the appreciation and demand of the market, on the other hand, are high.
In Italy, Carnaroli rice is grown on an area of about 9,700 hectares, concentrated mainly in the Pavese (almost 25%), in Lomellina (21.5%) and in the province of Vercelli (12.6%). Then we find the province of Milan (10.6%), the Po Delta (6.5%), the province of Novara (6.2%), the province of Verona (5.2%). The rest of Italy counts for 12.4%
CARNAROLI CULINARY USES: WHAT IS CARNAROLI RICE USED FOR?
Carnaroli rice is characterized by high percentage of amylose, low stickiness, excellent resistance to cooking and good absorption capacity.
Despite the fact that the Carnaroli is rather dated, these characteristics make it an excellent rice for risotto.
The uses of Carnaroli rice in the kitchen are however many: it is suitable for example with side dishes and rice salads. Also try to pair it simply with Parmigiano Reggiano and a little evoo.
The use of Carnaroli is not recommended in desserts, because of the lack of stickiness.
CARNAROLI RISOTTO: IS IT THE BEST?
Carnaroli is often referred to as the best rice for risotto, and the preferred choice of some top risotto chefs.
Among the best rice varieties to make risotto we find Vialone Nano, which, despite the small size of the grain, has similar characteristics to Carnaroli in terms of consistency and stickiness, and Arborio.
Is Carnaroli the best risotto rice? We’ll try to understand something more about by comparing Carnaroli rice with Arborio rice.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ARBORIO RICE AND CARNAROLI RICE?
Carnaroli is not the only rice that can be used to prepare a good risotto, but according to some it is the best.
Let’s see its characteristics with respect to the characteristics of Aroborio rice.
The Italian ‘Ente Nazionale Risi’ is an economic public body supervised by the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies. It is responsible for the conservation of Carnaroli rice and Arborio rice, and it provides assessment forms of the morphophysiological characteristics.
Let’s see the characteristics and differences: Carnaroli vs Arborio
Carnaroli rice (2)
- Length of the kernel: 7.25 mm
- Width of the kernel: 3.37 mm
- Relationship between length and width: 2.15
- Pearled caryopsis
- Endosperm type: non-glutinous
- Amylose content: 22.10% ss
- Hardness (kg/cm2): 0.91 kg
- Stickiness (g x cm): 1
Arborio rice (3)
- Length of the kernel: 7.37 mm
- Width of the kernel: 3.61 mm
- Relationship between length and width: 2.04
- Pearled caryopsis
- Endosperm type: non-glutinous
- Amylose content: 17.3% ss
- Hardness (kg/cm2): 0.69 kg
- Stickiness (g x cm): 3.03
As we can see, in the Carnaroli vs Arborio description, the hardness of Carnaroli rice is higher, as is the amylose content, while the stickiness is higher in Arborio rice.
Carnaroli rice is considered a better risotto rice than Arborio by those who consider it very important that in the risotto the grains are well separated from each other.
CARNAROLI RICE: SOURCES AND BIBLIOGRAPHY
(1) Valentina Masotti & Massimo Biloni, Il libro del riso italiano – dalla risaia al piatto. Con la prefazione di Paolo Massobrio, I libri de ilGolosario, Cairo 2017
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