What does rice taste like? It takes on the flavour of the condiment it is eaten with, bread tastes like bread, peaches taste of peaches however way you eat them. If want to taste the flavour of rice try Acquerello. It is a unique product for its royal qualities and its nutritional properties but mainly for its goodness and versatility. Once harvested the crude unrefined rice is not immediately processed but simply stored in environmentally controlled containers regulating humidity and temperature levels and is left to dry out for at least one year. In this manner the starches stabilise and become concentrated and therefore as a result do not disperse when cooked leaving the water clear and more importantly the rice retains its own natural taste and not a watery one. After an ageing period the rice is milled and its outer parts are removed as are also its more important component, the germ. Acquerello rice is not chemically treated but naturally processed whereby it is milled and the rice becomes slowly and almost wholly restored of its germ. The outcome is rice that looks beautiful like white rice but is nutritious and healthy like whole grain brown rice. Piero and Maria Nava Rondolino are extraordinary people and whom ever has the opportunity to pass by Livorno Ferraris near Vercelli should stop and visit what they call their small farm house - we guarantee that the experience is well worth the visit. Acquerello rice is honey coloured and its grain is whole and does not stick to the bottom of the pot and does not become gooey, not even when it dries, thus making it suitable for all uses, as a risotto or as a side dish. However way you should decide to use it taste some on its own just cooked or with a drizzle of olive oil...it is the rice that tastes like rice. A note for the finicky ones: Acquerello rice is of the extra carnaroli variety as per the laws definition and its requirements reached of breakage below 60% with respect to minimum standard allowed.
There are at least two schools of thought on risotto, the “mantecato” or stirred school that foresees toasting the rice and subsequently and gradually adding broth to it, with continuous stirring and “tirare” pulling the rice; and then once cooked, removed from heat, and then mantecato with the fat components of the recipe generally with the addition of butter and cheese. This mantecanto process gives rise to a very creamy risotto whereby the starches and the condiment fuse together in a velvety creamy texture that wraps the grains of rice together. This school of mantecato risotto uses carnaroli variety rice. However a second type of risotto exists that does not require this process and whose masters are from the Mantova and lower Veronese areas the very homeland of “Pilota” risotto. The rice, the appropriate amount of water and its condiment are placed in a pot with lid, best if ceramic, all together and left to simmer on its own without ever stirring it. This creates a typical rice of the area of extraordinary goodness whose grains of rice are distinct and separate from one another. They will have absorbed all of its condiment and together they form a perfect union of flavour. Vialone Nano variety rice is perfect for the preparation of this second school of rice. Vialone Nano comes directly from the rice farm (the pile from which the name pilota comes from) Cà Vecchia where Gabriele Gazzani produces an exceptional rice in both the white and semi-whole grain brown rice varieties. A note for the precise and finicky ones: riso alla pilota with meat: place 70 grams of rice per person and the same amount of ground pork flavoured in the Montovana style, pan fried with onions and white wine and 110% water with respect to the quantity of rice, cover and let simmer on low heat until cooked. Never lift the lid and never stir the rice. If you are a purist serve “puntellatelo” as they say in Mantovano whereby you serve the rice alongside an oven roasted pork rib.
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