Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Risotto: The Marriage Of Rice & Italian Cuisine

Among the staple foods enjoyed world wide, rice is one of the most widely popular and highly consumed cereal grain. By way of trade and exportation through many centuries, rice is now common in many cultures and cuisines throughout the world. Although the majority of rice grown come from Asian countries, it can be relatively easily grown anywhere, especially in areas with high rainfall since rice cultivation requires an extensive amount of water. Risotto rice is a northern Italian rice dish cooked in broth ending up with a creamy consistency, and it is the most common way of cooking rice in the country. The Italian company Riso Bello is a leading producer of the top risottos you can find thanks to their extensive background and experience in this field. In this blog post, we will describe Riso Bello, the growing of rice, how to make risotto, and the different Italian risottos.

Who Is Riso Bello?
*NOTE: In Italy and throughout Europe, the company is known as Riso Gallo. However in the United States, the label is known as Riso Bello. Though the names are slightly different, the Riso Bello brand has same exact high quality as the products with the European label.

The logo of Riso Bello (a.k.a Riso Gallo)

Starting in 1856 with a factory in Genoa that processed imported paddy rice, Riso Bello is now one of the oldest rice growing companies in Italy. At the same time in 1856, another factory was opened up in Argentina to meet the demands of the South American market. The success and increasing experience in the field helped to encourage the company to concentrate on Italian crops, and in 1926 the Genoa factory was transferred to Robbio Lemollina in the heart of the province of Pavia. This place was one of the most well known rice-growing regions at the time. 

The 1st design of Riso Gallo's line of retail packets

One of Riso Gallo's 1st logos
By the 1940s, the company created the cockerel symbol which became the company logo. Since illiteracy was still widespread in Argentina, the company decided to identify the different varieties of rice by using images of animals. These animals consisted of a giraffe, a tiger, an eagle, an elephant, and a cockerel, all of which appeared on sacks of rice and then eventually on retail packs. The cockerel identified the best variety of rice and it eventually became the company symbol keeping the high quality label synonymous with their products.

Mission Statement

Riso Gallo's mission is to spread the culture of rice and risotto throughout the world by using innovation that constantly adapts to the needs of the modern consumer. They rely on experience and specialized research to develop the finest varieties of rice that satisfy the market demand for high-quality, genuine, tasty products that are quick and easy to prepare. To ensure that their products reach the consumer's table in their genuine and natural form, Riso Bello does not use genetically modified organisms (GMOs).


For Riso Bello, communication is always a vital role in the company. The word chicchiricchi became the advertising slogan for Riso Gallo dating back to 1968. To the Western speaking audience it doesn't make sense, but it is a clever little phrase once translated from Italian. Chicchiricchi actually holds a double meaning in that it is the rooster's onomatopoeia of Cock-a-doodle (dropping the last part -doo) and also that it is literally translated as "rich grains". It perfectly symbolizes the fusion of the product, symbol, and the brand's corporate mission. You can even see them use this in one of their Italian commercials by watching the video below.

The Chicchiricchi slogan marked the start of television advertising for Riso Bello in Italy during the 1970s during the TV program called Carosello and was then relaunched during the 2000s as the current "Chicchiricchi di fantasia" (translated Cockerel Call of Creativity).

The Growing Of Italian Rice

In Italy, rice is grown under water which is vital for protecting the seeds and seedlings from the low night temperatures. Rice reaches full maturity between September and October and the fields are dried for the last time two weeks before harvesting. With modern harvesters outfitted with caterpillar treads, these are used since they can move around with no risk of sinking into the muddy ground found in the paddy fields.

Riso Bello rice field in the Po Valley

Threshing yields paddy rice, the raw material, which is then dried to remove any excess humidity. Back in the old days, this stage involved threshing floors using the warmth of the sun which lasted two or three days. Presently it is now performed by sophisticated machinery that cuts the time down to a few hours and conserves the product properties better.

Preliminary stage of rice cleaning

After the first quality check when it reaches the factory, the paddy rice undergoes a preliminary, thorough cleaning using cleaning machines and stone separators before it passes through huskers that remove the out husk. This process produces brown rice which is then sorted according to size by graders that remove the smaller, immature grains.

The brown rice is then ready to be refined or whitened in a physical milling process that gradually removes the outer layers of the grain, husk, & bran and leaves only the central part called the "kernel". During the refining process, the more fragile grains break to form brokens. Excess brokens are removed by sifting.

The rice is then checked grain by grain by optical sorters that remove any discolored grains. Sorting is performed by highly sophisticated machinery with cameras that can identify and remove any grains that are not of standard color.


Parboiling is a process that enables the rice to hold its shape during cooking and preserve the same nutrients as brown rice. The name comes from "partially boiled". Traditionally, the process involves partially steaming the rice and then drying it in the sun. Today, the process uses highly advanced production technology before the rice is sent to the mills for husking and subsequent refining.

Rice going through the parboiling process

Parboiled rice is obtained through the completely natural procedure already known to the Hittites and the Egyptians of parboiling. The untreated rice is first soaked in hot water, then steamed at a high temperature, and is finally dried with hot air before it is husked using the normal systems used to produce white rice. Riso Bello was the first to use this method in the Italian market on a continuous cycle.

During parboiling, vitamins and mineral salts pass from the pericarp to inside the grain through osmosis, and nutrients, which are normally lost during normal processing, are preserved. The heat also turns the starch into a gelatinous form which produces a more resistant grain that can not only be stored longer but is easy to prepare, is firmer, and is less sticky.

Italian Risotto Rice

Riso Bello selects the best Italian risotto rice from the rice fields of the Po Valley, the motherland of risotto and risotto rice. Riso Bello also guarantees the origin of the rice from selected rice farms, using traditional stone husking and the "Amburgo" model whitening machines (which dates back to 1898), and a careful grain-by-grain selection process. They provide a unique range of naturally produced and flavorsome risottos, ready in 16-19 minutes just by adding water, as well as their Ready Risotto line which makes it even easier to prepare in 12 minutes. Along with their risotto rice, Riso Bello has their very popular Gluten Free 3 Grain Pastas.

Click to buy me online!

This is the king of Italian rices and one of the best in the world. Its starch content guarantees an excellent balance between its absorption capacity and its resistance to cooking. It is admired by great chefs because of its refined taste and by beginners because it is extremely reliable.

Click to buy me online!

Vialone Nano

A high quality semifino variety of rice that is very popular in the Mantua/Verona area. Classified as a medium rice, it is ideal for creamy risottos since it absorbs liquid very well.

Click to buy me online!

This is the Italian rice with the largest grains, derived from Vialone Nano rice, and is excellent for risottos which achieve a good creaminess due to the high starch content of this variety of rice.

Click to buy me online!

An aromatic whole grain rice with natural black color. Originally from China where it was attributed with the aphrodisiac properties that led to its name, today it is also grown in the Po Valley. It is ideal as an accompaniment to the wonderful flavors of fish and shellfish.

Ready Risotto

Click me to shop all flavors!

An authentic and genuine Italian Risotto, with the characteristic creamy, delicious and “al dente” texture. Already flavoured. Ready in 12 minutes by adding only water.

Gluten Free 3 Grain Pasta

Click me to shop all gluten free pasta cuts!
A delicious gluten-free pasta made from rice, corn and buckwheat with the traditional high quality, texture and "al dente" consistency of the typical Italian (wheat) Pasta but more digestible. It is a good source of vegetable proteins, mineral salts and vitamins. The 3 grains pasta is produced in an Italian certified factory dedicated to the production of gluten free products, using 60% Rice Flour, 30% Maize Flour and 10% Buckwheat Flour.


Rice is one of the most nutritional foods that nature has given man , and it is the main staple food for over half of the world’s population. A rich source of complex carbohydrates which give energy to the body when transformed into glucose, it has a low lipid level and its proteins have a high biological value (the FAO gives rice a protein value of 69 compared with 49 for wheat and 44 for maize). The fact that it is highly digestible means that it is completely assimilated in sixty to one hundred minutes, much less than the amount of time needed to digest all the other cereal grains.

Cooking Risotto

Risotto is one of the dishes that is the most representative worldwide of the flavor and creativity that marks Italian cuisine. The wide range of recipes used to prepare it in the restaurants of star-winning chefs as well as at home are all based on techniques that must be followed if you want to achieve successful results.

What Rice Should You Use?
Piles of Riso Bello Italian Risotto Rice

Even if recently more exotic varieties of rice, such as black Venus rice, have been used to make risotto, great traditional Italian risottos normally use three specific varieties of great white rices.

Riso Bello Carnaroli: This variety has also been obtained from a series of crosses in 1945 and since then it has quickly become a favorite of Italians who love risotto because of its amazing ability to maintain its shape and flavor, and to blend perfectly with all types of ingredients.

Riso Bello Vialone Nano: The head of this family of rices which are ideal for making risottos has its gastronomic roots in the Veneto and Mantua areas. Its chunky grains absorb the ingredients perfectly and guarantee an excellent cooking performance.

Riso Bello Arborio: Derived from the older Vialone Nano variety in circa 1946, the heat gently penetrates its long grains during cooking preserving the right amount of starch inside to remain “al dente” yet giving creaminess, which is needed to make it perfectly smooth.

The Tools

These are the recommended tools to help achieve the best result in making your risotto dish.

Saucepan For Risotto: A deep, wide saucepan is ideal for cooking risotto. If not available, a frying pan can be used which gives it name to the Spanish dish featuring rice: paella. We do not recommend non-stick pans because they are not suitable for toasting the rice. Unfortunately, you will just have to be careful that the grains do not stick to the bottom of the pan. More demanding cooks say that risotto should be made in a copper saucepan.

Wooden Spoon: Wooden spoons are often used for cooking because the material they are made of does not have any effect on the temperature of the food they come into contact with (unlike metal spoons, for example). They are ideal for stirring risotto because they do not break the grains and treat them delicately. For this reason, some people use a special wooden spoon with a hole in the center.


Derived from the worldwide practice of using the antiseptic properties of the onion, the soffritto technique has become the first, essential step that gives a risotto its unique flavor. The finely chopped onion should be slowly sautéed in melted butter for at least ten minutes over a low heat (“over a candle flame” as the old cooking maestros used to say) by stirring with a wooden spoon and adding a tablespoon of water, if necessary, to stop it from burning. Other aromatic ingredients such as garlic, celery, and carrot may be added to the soffritto.


To obtain rice that is perfectly “al dente”, it must be lightly toasted to seal the grains of rice and close the pores. When the soffritto is ready, turn up the heat, pour the rice into the saucepan and stir continuously using the all-essential wooden spoon. When the rice begins to stick lightly to the pan, add some white wine to give the rice a slight hint of acidity as it evaporates and give the risotto its distinctive flavor.


When the wine has evaporated, lower the heat and add the first ladle of stock. The stock should not be added all at once but, as the maestros of cooking used to say “when the rice needs it,” (i.e. when there is not much liquid left in the grains). Risotto requires a lot of attention: it requires constant stirring so that the starch that is released does not make the grains stick together and it will be your instinct or the precision of the recipe you are following that decides exactly when to add the other ingredients. In the same way, you will be the one to decide when the risotto is cooked regardless of the instructions on the packet. Normally, depending on the variety of rice used, you will need 15 to 20 minutes.


This stage indicates the need to add the right amount of fat to the cooked rice that will give it its distinctive shininess, correct flavor and, in the words of experts, “wave-like” consistency. In some recipes, Parmesan or other cheeses are be added along with butter. Some require oil and some that have a more exotic flavor or perhaps require low fat yogurt. Whatever the case may be, the covered risotto should be left to rest after adding the necessary fat and stirring it thoroughly.

Cooking Riso Bello Ready Risotto

For cooking the Ready Risotto line from Riso Bello, it is as simple as following the instructions from this one picture:

If you've reached the end of this blog, you should now have a good understanding of who Riso Bello is, ample knowledge of how their rice is harvested and made, the different kinds of risotto rice used in many dishes, and lastly how to make the best risotto rice using the most ideal tools and methods. Although Italian rice was the main focus of this post, it is only one portion of the ever growing world of gourmet food. Gourmet ingredients like Riso Bello's risotto rice are available through specialty shops like the Gourmet Import Shop where you can easily get access to, find, and buy similar products. Click the logo below to start shopping right away!

Click me to shop gourmet food!

No comments:

Post a Comment