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Which rices can I use for risotto?

For this classic northern Italian dish, you want an absorbant, high-starch rice with short, fat grains that will yield a moist, creamy risotto but hold their own for an al dente bite.

Arborio has long been the favorite, but recently, the more expensive and less widely available Carnaroli has become the rice of choice for risotto connoisseurs. Vialone Nano, from the Veneto, can absorb twice its weight in liquid, meaning it is hard to overcook (although some cooks claim it produces a less delicate result). Carnaroli is a hybrid of Vialone Nano and a Japanese rice that was developed in Italy in the 1940s.

Risotto is made by sautéing rice grains in a bit of butter and/or olive oil and diced onion until translucent, then ladling in stock gradually and letting it to absorb before adding more. This process is repeated until the rice is cooked (18-20 minutes).

Most risotto recipes call for almost constant stirring to help release some of the rice's starch and result in a creamy finished dish. We're not so militant about the constant stirring -- in our experience, it's one of those passed-down recipe-isms that doesn't make as much of a difference on the finished dish as conventional wisdom says it does.

Reference: What does al dente mean?
Recipe: Risotto With Treviso Radicchio And Taleggio (Lucullian Delights)
Recipe: Cauliflower Risotto With Spicy Pangrattato (Traveler's Lunchbox)
Recipe: Roasted Beet Risotto (Coconut & Lime)
 

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