Is Risotto Rice or Pasta?


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Is Risotto Rice or Pasta?

Risotto is a really rich, decadent dish that a great many of us enjoy while we’re out having dinner. However, if you’ve never had a reason to google it or look up a recipe, then you might be asking yourself: is risotto rice or pasta?

That’s definitely a question that we understand. After all, the cornerstone of Italian cooking is pasta, and risotto is most certainly an Italian dish!

In this article, we’re going to run through some key facts about risotto, the world-famous Italian staple, and talk about what, exactly every element of risotto is.

What is risotto?

Risotto itself is a dish made by adding a number of key ingredients in a slow, deliberate method. The aim of this is to ensure that the flavors you’re creating are as strong and rich as possible, while also ensuring that the dish has a delicate, deliberate texture.

To make a risotto, chefs will start with something called the mirepoix – a mixture of finely minced vegetables that gives the dish a lot of it’s flavor. Typically, this is a mixture of onions, carrots, and celery. Some chefs may include other vegetables for flavor, such as garlic or chiles.

Once these beginning items are gently cooked, risotto rice is added. Yes, that’s right: risotto rice! Typically, either arborio or carnaroli rice is used. These are two types of rice that have long been used in Italy, and have been selectively bred to ensure that each grain plumps up as well as possible.

To the rice, liquids are added in small increments. The liquid is then allowed to be absorbed slowly into the rice, while the chef stirs constantly. This process of adding liquid and constantly stirring can last for around forty minutes: this is why risotto is often so expensive in restaurants, as you’re essentially paying for the chef to stand still and make risotto for forty minutes, rather than multi-tasking.

Once the rice is cooked, fatty ingredients are added in a stage called ‘mantecare’. This is the point at which butter and parmesan are typically added, before being whipped into the mixture to incorporate some small amount of air. This results in a rich, flavorsome dish that’s often cited as a wonderful comfort food!

Is risotto always rice?

Yes, risotto is always made with rice. Typically, the grains chosen will be either arborio rice or carnaroli rice. Carnaroli is a little more expensive, but it’s considered to be the most premium of the types of risotto rice. The grain is the largest, meaning that it can absorb more liquid and release more starch into the dish as you’re cooking.

This means two things for the overall texture of the dish. Firstly, it means that each grain will be larger and juicier, and it means that the sauce itself will be smoother and more luxurious.

However, the question of risotto being rice is a sensible question to ask, in a lot of ways. The main reason for this is that there is a famous type of pasta called orzo. This is shaped a lot like little grains of rice, and is typically cooked in the same way that risotto rice is – by adding it to a pot with all your other ingredients, and allowing it to sit for a while.

However, it isn’t a form of rice, it’s definitely pasta. The word pasta comes from the Italian, naturally, and it means ‘paste’. This paste is formed of either water and flour or flour and eggs, and is then kneaded into a dough and worked into different shapes depending upon what you might want for your pasta.

Rice grains, on the other hand, are grown from a plant, before being harvested and dried. Then, you find them in bags on supermarket shelves.

What are the different types of risotto rice?

There are three types of risotto rice: arborio, carnaroli, and vialone nano.

Arborio rice is the most commonly used for risotto. This is because it is the cheapest but, despite this, it still creates a rich and flavorsome risotto with grains of rice larger than other species of rice, such as basmati.

The main reason that it’s the go-to rice for risotto is that it’s very widely available – you can buy it in most supermarkets.

Carnaroli rice is considered to be the best type of rice that you could use for risotto. The grains themselves are physically larger than most other types of rice, which means that they release a lot of starch as they cook.

This starch that gets released into the risotto that you’re making makes the sauce richer and smoother. It works as something of an emulsifier, to bring together the fatty ingredients that you add during the mantecare phase, and all of the other ingredients that you add to the risotto pan.

On top of this starch that gets added to your dishes, carnaroli rice also swells up to a larger size than other types of rice. For this reason, the ‘mouthfeel’ of the dish is quite notably different from other types of rice, leading to a tasty, wholesome dish.

Finally, we come to vialone nano. This type of rice is enjoyed by a great number of people because, compared to a number of other types of rice and pasta, it’s virtually impossible to overcook!

This means that you can make a pot of rice that you stand and cook for a very long time, and the rice will continue to cook slowly but surely. The result of this is that you have a much finer level of control over the texture of the rice that you’re using.

Consider it this way – if you’re driving a car more slowly, you have more control over where and when it will stop. It’s the same with vialone nano rice – you cook is very slowly, so you can control precisely when it stops cooking.

So Is Risotto Rice Or Pasta?

The short answer is, rice! Risotto is most definitely rice and not pasta!

I hope that this short article has answered any and all questions that you might have about the wonderful world of risotto. Plus, we’ve now answered, once and for all: risotto is definitely rice!