Story by Manos Angelakis

Riso Buono

Rice at the Fancy Food Show

Rice, introduced to Europe by the Phoenicians in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Arabs at the Iberian Peninsula, is one of the world’s food staples and you will find rice dishes in every culture and every cuisine.

There are more than 250,000 different rice varieties worldwide; as varieties adapt to the terroir they are planted eventually, after hundreds of years, they become considered local cultivars. For culinary purposes, they are divided into brown and white rice as well as short grain, medium grain and long grain, Brown rice is less processed than white rice which had the bran stripped away. Most kitchens use white rice.

In general, rice whose original source was Africa and grown in Europe, is short grained or medium grained -- for example Italian Arborio, Carnaroli and Vialone Nano, Greek Nychaki and Blue Rose, French Camargue Red rice, and Spanish Bomba. Rice grown in Asia is generally long grained, such as the over 16 Indian Basmati varieties and the Southeastern Asian Jasmine. Much of the rice grown in North America, such as a Texas-grown hybrid of Basmati and regular long grain rice, had origins in Southeast Asia.

During the last (2019) Summer Fancy Food Show, I encountered 2 new exceptional  rice producers, one from Italy called Riso Buono (Azienda Agricola Luigi e Carlo Guidobono Cavalchini) from Novara, and the other Arkansas grown, Luquire Family Long Grain Rice.

Riso Buono sells two different rice varieties, each in two different packagings: a 1 kilo (2,2 lb) brown box and a Mason glass jar, 950 grams. They are Carnaroli Gran Reserva, an aged rice that I used for risotto, and Artemide, a black-hued rice with intense aromatics, which is rich in iron.

First, to test the Carnaroli, we made two dishes: a Venetian Risi e Bisi and, since the Carnaroli is close in physical shape and taste to the Bomba rice used in Spain for paellas, a Paella Catalana. Recipes following, serve 4 to 6 persons.

Venetian Risi e Bici

Venetian Risi e Bisi:

La Serenissima is known for great risottos, especially seafood risotto and Risi e Bisi, a risotto-style rice dish; since the Spanish dish had chicken and seafood, I decided on the Risi e Bisi. This Venetian classic, eaten as a main course rather than a side dish, was once reserved for the aristocracy and served on feast days. It is best in the spring when baby peas have been just harvested.  Thankfully, nowadays frozen peas of high quality are available to American kitchens year-round; just defrost them for an hour or so prior to cooking. Also, I had less than a 1/4 cup of long grain rice left over, so I mixed it in with the Carnaroli (I hate to waste good ingredients).

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and minced
  • 4 oz pancetta
  • 1 lb fresh green peas (shelled)
  • 1 1/4 cups  Carnaroli rice with a little long grain mixed in (optional)
  • 2 1/2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 sprig of fresh parsley, very finely chopped
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a thick bottomed pot.
  • Minced onion is cooked in the butter until translucent.
  • Add the pancetta and cook until browned and slightly crisp.
  • Add the peas and parsley and a ladle or two of broth and bring to a boil.
  • Cook, stirring frequently with wooden spoon for 6 to 10 minutes.
  • When the peas and parsley are beginning to turn color, add olive oil; when oil is hot, add rice and start stirring until rice starts to color.
  • Add 1 cup of broth and bring to a simmer.
  • Cook the rice, stirring constantly with the wooden spoon. Keep adding broth to keep rice slightly soupy.
  • Once the rice is tender, stir in the remaining butter and the grated parmesan and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Set aside until all liquid is absorbed, rice should look creamy.
  • Serve hot, garnished with fresh chopped parsley.

    paella-catalana with crayfish

Paella Catalana.

Though paella’s origin is Valencia, the Catalans make very tasty paellas as well. Every time I go to Barcelona, in addition to tapas, I make sure to have paella at least once during my trip. Paella de Mariscos is a summer favorite in Spain for a very good reason - paella is the perfect vehicle for whatever is fresh from the sea. Most restaurants serve their paella with large prawns, but I was lucky enough to walk into Boca Grande that serves numerous paella versions, and they have one with crayfish that I prefer.

Ingredients:

  • 1cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed but not chopped
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 3 lb chicken, cut into pieces
  • 2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 4 3/4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups Carnaroli rice (if available use Bomba rice, but the Carnaroli is a good substitute).
  • 8 oz fresh peas
  • 10 green beans cut into 1 ¼ inch pieces
  • 2 artichokes, peeled, tough leaves and choke removed, cut into quarters
  • ¼ tsp Pimentón de la Vera picante (hot Spanish paprika)
  • ½ tsp saffron
  • 8 oz white fish fillets, cut into pieces
  • 2 medium calamari cut in 1 inch rings (heads discarded)
  • 6 – 8 Crayfish
  • 12 mussels, scrubbed well
  • 24 Little Neck or Cherrystone clams, also scrubbed well
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly chopped parsley

Method:

  • In a large frying pan heat the oil , add 2 of the garlic cloves and fry until they are browned. Remove and discard the garlic.
  • Add onion and chicken pieces and fry until they are browned.
  • Add tomatoes, last garlic and chicken stock and bring slowly to boil.
  • Add rice, spreading evenly over the surface.
  • Add the peas, artichokes, beans, pimentón, saffron and salt and bring to rapid boil.
  • Lower the heat, add on top the fish, crayfish, calamari rings, clams and mussels and cook over low heat without stirring for approximately 20 minutes; until the rice absorbs all the liquid and the clams and mussels open. Discard any that are still closed.
  • Sprinkle with parsley and serve directly from the pan. 

Both the rice dishes were very successful. The Risi e Bisi was creamy, but the rice kept its shape and was slightly al-dente. In the paella, the rice absorbed all the liquid but remained well shaped with a nutty taste.

In the next issue we will report on the Artemide dish and the Luquire Family Long Grain Rice dish.

 

 

 

© August 2019 LuxuryWeb Magazine. All rights reserved.

 

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