There is no way of knowing how rice actually came to Italy. Most likely came in from Spain around the fourteenth century. It immediately became a very popular Italian staple in every household. The countryside around Milan has the perfect combination of water, land and humidity to cultivate this type of grain.

The most favored way Italians utilized rice is in the creation of risotto. There are four principle elements to risotto. The first, referring to special ingredients specific to the kind of risotto being made, is the soffritto, which is usually made with combination of vegetables, butter and oil. In my recipes it is simply chopped carrot. celery, green pepper and onions with, of course some garlic thrown in. This mixture is then sauteed with the rice in the butter and oil. The broth or stock is the next component. The broth can be chicken, vegetable, beef or fish, homemade or canned though homemade is the preference in creating a perfect dish. The third ingredient is where the flavor comes from. Saffron is the traditional spice used but you can use a combination of other herbs and spices along with meat, seafood or vegetables to enhance the flavor. The final component and obviously the most important is the rice. Starchy large grain rice is best for this dish. Usually arborio or other rice like carnaroli, vialone nano or baldo are regularly used. These types of rice are perfect because they can absorb large amounts of liqued and still remain firm.

Risotto is a very popular dish here in the United States and abroad, but it is also one of the most frequent Italian dishes people tend to screw up due to the exact way as it should be prepared. Three of the best tips I could give you is one, don't rinse the rice. By rinsing you will remove all the starch needed to absorb the all liquid, Also, try to use different types of rice to see which one fits the recipe the best and use a pot with a very heavy bottom. A heavy based pot will insure the rice cooks evenly.

It is also key that you slightly brown the rice before adding the broth. Just don't overcook the rice or it will harden. Just lightly browned will be fine. This is a very important step that helps insure texture and richness of the dish. Also, one thing I have heard is conflicting stories on whether you should stir after adding every cup of broth. Some say you don't have to stand there and stir until the dish is finished. I say you do. It's a long process but I feel each cup of broth should be stirred in until it's absorbed. I feel that this is what makes a perfect risotto every time.

I hope these tips help, Enjoy!

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