Rice at its best: the history behind risotto

The history of risotto

{Photo: © paulettenouvelle.blogspot.com}

Risotto is probably one of the most conventional ways to cook short-rice in Italy. It’s usually eaten as a primo, on its own before the main course. But in the Italian tradition the risotto alla milanese is also paired with a juicy braised veal ossobuco. Trough time the meal has been exported to every part of the world and each country has enhanced that delectable dish with their culture and their colors.

But when and where did this all start? In the 14th century B.C.
During their rule, the Arabs, which have already started to plant rice in Egypt and Africa, started to do the same in Sicily and Spain. Italy had therefore the most favorable climate and geography to grow short-rice: plentiful of flat and humid territories. It then took almost 100 years for the precious resource, which was more valuable than honey, to reach the other regions of Italia (Tuscany, Lombardy, piedmont, etc.)

Golden saffron risotto

Golden saffron risotto

The story of Milan’s golden risotto…
Once upon a time, in Milan, there was an apprentice named Valerius. He was put in charge of the Duomo Cathedral stain-glass windows. Even if he undertook this project with passion, Valerius was the laughingstock of the town. They would denigrate his work by attributing the heady orange shade of the windows to the saffron instead of his talent. Valerius, beside himself, was seeking revenge. He decided to ruin his master’s wedding by overdosing the rice main coarse whit saffron. Delectable! Unfortunately for him, the dish was a great success and became really famous over the years and this urban story is still part of Milan’s cultural heritage.

What do you need? 4 basic ingredients and flavors.
Italian rice
Characterized by its high starch level and its round aspect, the Italian rice gives that creamy texture to the risotto especially the Arborio, the Carnaroli and the Vialone Namo varieties. It is very important to never wash the rice before cooking.

Commonly called mirepoix in the French cuisine; this mix of carrot, onions and celery will be firstly put in the pan with oil/butter and the Italian rice. This step, called the tostatuara, will give the rice the first flavors and assure that every grain is coated with a film of fat.

White or red wine is also added to the mixture and is absorbed by the grains, bringing character to the risotto.

Then, the broth is integrated gradually to the whole. It’s at this stage that the rice begins to liberate its starch and takes its creamy appearance. Any kind of broth can be used: chicken, beef or fish.

Flavors and condiments
The final step is to flavor the risotto with your favorite ingredients and spices: Parmesan, mushrooms, asparagus, spinach, tomatoes, parsley, saffron, whatever you prefer.

But everyone knows you need a break, so why not use one of the four delectable risotto varieties offered by In Cuisin? In two minutes it’s ready and you have time to enjoy another Italian custom: LA DOLCE FAR NIENTE – the sweetness of doing nothing.

Sources: Wikipedia ::: EHow ::: Just in food now ::: Clifford A Wright

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