In a nutshell: The very best risotto rice there is, this 100% carnaroli is grown among the pristine and fertile soils of an Italian nature reserve and is now being used by top chefs like Heston Blumenthal.
Great Taste 2018 Award 2 Star winner
If you’re serious about your risotto, you’ll want to make it with the best rice. Riserva San Massimo uses carefully selected seeds of what it calls “authentic carnaroli” – that is, the original variety, not one of the similar though inferior species that Italian law permits to be sold under the ‘carnaroli’ name.
It’s grown in Lombardy's San Massimo nature reserve, whose fertile soils are fed by the mineral-rich waters of the river Ticino and by 44 naturally occurring karst springs. After harvest, the rice is processed using time-honoured methods.
For instance, husking is done is small batches using conical stones, a slow process but one that guarantees quality because the rice isn’t subjected to high temperatures.
This careful treatment has a direct effect on the rice’s cooking and eating quality. The risotto it delivers is creamy, because of the rice’s high starch content, without being mushy, because the compact and homogenous grains hold their shape during cooking – and even afterwards, during the ‘mantecato’ stage, when you vigorously beat in the butter and parmesan.
Details: Available as a 500g box or a 1kg bag.
How to use it:
- To make amazing risotto! The rice’s high cooking resistance means the grains maintain their shape, making overcooking less likely. Try combining it with our Safra del Montsec saffron in a vibrant risotto Milanese, to serve with osso bucco.
- Because the grains hold their shape so well, it means any leftover risotto holds its texture when used to make Sicilian arancini or risotto al salta – a cooked rice pancake with a crisp crust and creamy middle that’s great for lunch with a simple green salad.
About Riserva San Massimo:
Over the course of centuries, the Ticino river, which tumbles down from the Swiss Alps, changed its original course through the broad plains of northern Italy. It left behind a fertile swathe of land, whose peaty soils, rich in micronutrients, proved to be the ideal medium for growing rice.
It is here, in the heart of a protected natural reserve, that Guido Antonello and his team, led by estate manager Dino Massignani, since 2005, harness the pure, mineral-laden waters of the reserve’s 44 natural karst springs to cultivate their superior-quality carnaroli. The Antonello family have dedicated their lives to protecting the biodiversity and beauty of this eco reserve teeming with wildlife.
Attention to detail and adherence to tradition are key. Only organic, natural fertilisers are used – and even then, only lightly. The harvested rice is dried at low temperatures, then rested in airy silos, the way risotto rice has been prepared for centuries.
At each stage of production, the choices Dino makes aren’t the easy, time-saving, penny-pinching ones – instead, he’s guided by his desire to produce the best risotto rice he can. This way, the rice keeps all the flavour and fragrance it gained during its ripening in this completely natural habitat.
"My mother was a mondina (one of the women who weeded the paddies in Italy's rice belt in the 1940s) and my family has always been linked to the world of rice," Dino says.
"Life as a mondina was gruelling and rice was torn by hand. Since I was a child I've felt a love for the fields, nature and animals and this led me to my passion for preserving true carnaroli rice. In the 1980's carnaroli was disappearing but now people are rediscovering this authentic rice."
It’s why Riserva San Massimo carnaroli is now used in Italy’s finest restaurants. It’s why it won 2 Stars at the 2018 Great Taste Awards. And it’s why we’re sure you won’t find any better rice to make your risotto with.
You can also try it at Dinner by Heston in London's Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park hotel where Ashley Palmer-Watts and his chefs are using it in the stunning dish "Rice & Flesh" combined with almonds, saffron, veal sweetbreads and smoked eel.
Don't forget to check out the other San Massimo rice on our website: Riso Rosa Marchetti Semi-integrale (part-husked) and Integrale (wholegrain).