Chef Giada De Laurentiis told USA Today that her go-to risotto rice is aged carnaroli because it gives risotto that creamy texture and retains some tooth despite all the cooking.
Rice is primarily made of two starches — amylopectin and amylose. Rice with a higher amylose content remains firm when cooked, and the individual grains stay separate and fluffy.
Conversely, amylopectin melts into the liquid it’s cooked in, turning it creamy while keeping the rice soft and sticky. That’s why risotto needs rice that is high in amylopectin.
While arborio, the rice typically used in risotto, ticks the box, carnaroli can be even better. That’s because it’s high in amylopectin, but it also contains a little amylose.
Hence, carnaroli can give your risotto the same thick creaminess as arborio, but it’s better at withstanding all the cooking and stirring, thus resulting in an al dente texture.
Giada specifically prefers the aged carnaroli that’s produced by Riso Buono and sold on Giadzy. Aged carnaroli absorbs more liquid, making the rice more plump, firm, and flavorful.