This is one of the most popular rice varieties in Italy, thanks to its shape and texture. The plump grain rice maintains its consistency throughout cooking. During cooking, the heat penetrates the most peripheral area of the grain, leaving the central core (rich in starch) ‘al dente’.
This is what makes it suitable for all types of risottos, which can be deliciously creamy, as well as for timbales and ‘supplì’ (Rome’s mozzarella-filled rice croquettes). Arborio rice is named after the town of the same name in Vercelli where it was first selected in 1946, derived from the Vialone cultivar.
Even today, these areas of the Po Valley are the largest producers of Arborio rice.
The worldwide acclaim generally attributed to Parboiled rice is not just a matter of chance, but due to the many advantages derived from the process known as "parboiling" to which the grains are subjected. This is a "precooking" stage which, by modifying the crystalline structure of the starch, allows salt, proteins and vitamins to work their way through the surface of the grain to the inside. This kind of rice is especially suited to making rice salads because it never overcooks and the grains never stick together. Riso Parboiled is also suitable for making pilaf or oven-baked dishes because it absorbs less fat during cooking and so is easier to digest.
It is a good idea to cook this rice until all the cooking liquid has been absorbed and then let it cool by spreading it out on a clean, cold plate (rather than subjecting it to the thermal shock of putting it under the cold tap).
Vacuum-packing prevents the rice from changing and preserves the colour, flavour and nutritional values of the grain.