Mantecatura Risotto

There is no real translation for mantecare in English a fundamental term in any Italian kitchen. Its roots come from the Spanish word for butter or lard, and it indicates a technique that works the dish into a deliciously creamy texture.

The first thing is the rice type and it is key to any risotto, so arborio or carnaroli? I guess it isn’t the only factor and Italians use those types as they grow them and over time risotto has developed with these two kinds.

Arborio is the most widely available risotto rice, arborio is typically wider and longer than carnaroli or vialone nano.While Carnaroli is hailed as the “king” or the “caviar” of Italian rices, Carnaroli is the preferred risotto rice in most regions of Italy.

“Many say use only Italian short-grain rice varieties such as: Aroborio, Carnaroli, Vialone, Nano, and Baldo but I like Arborio as it is the shortest rice grain. Short-grain rice has a high starch content and tends to absorb less liquid, resulting in a stickier, more compact risotto”

The higher amylose delays swelling and increases the gelatinization temperature. A good example is the starch in rice. The starches in short, medium, and long-grain rice vary in their ratio of amylose to amylopectin. The gelatinization temperature of the starch greatly affects the texture of cooked rice.The majority of rice protein is alkaline soluble, and so alkaline steeping method is commonly used in industry and research to produce rice starch with good recovery.(source internet)

I read Vialone Nano is another favorite of this type with a medium grain, shorter and thicker than arborio, and is nearly impossible to overcook. But I am not sure that is suitable for stuffing peppers given it is able to absorb more than twice its weight in liquid.

So what we learn is starch and amylase matters when cooking rice and the rice size is an important part of risotto but not only. And some chefs say risotto rice is just like sushi, risotto needs to retain its sticky consistency. And given we wash, washing the rice strips off the starch that’s the key element to maintaining that classic creamy texture.

Even if we beat it or stir vigorously, to create a smooth, creamy consistency in the dish the process is called mantecatura. It means mixing a sauce or ingredients for a creamy and full-bodied consistency. Mantecatura is a quick process carried out at the end of cooking, allowing all the ingredients to bind together.

Mantecare is essential for making risotto: you add fresh butter or cream and grated cheese to the risotto when it is almost finished, stirring vigorously so that it develops that desired creaminess.

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