PDO Biella and Vercelli Baraggia Rice, the first and only Italian PDO rice, is a product with wholly particular qualitative and nutritional characteristics.
● PDO rice for preparing Risotto
With large and pearly grains, Carnaroli is considered the “prince” of risotti even by great chefs. Thanks to its high amylose contents, the grains remain consistent and allow for perfect cooking, offering a crunchy effect when eaten. The central pearl, the slightly porous opalescent part within each grain, allows for better absorption of flavours and condiments during cooking, an important characteristic of a risotto, which is cooked in direct contact with other ingredients.
Arborio, one of the best known types of rice in the world for preparing risotto, was born in the Baraggia area in 1946, selected on the field by Domenico Marchetti in the town of Arborio, which indeed gives the rice its name. It features the largest grains of all Italian varieties, with a slightly squared shape and a noteworthy central pearl. The added value of PDO Baraggia Arborio rice is the authenticity of this variety: approximately 95% of rice cultivated and packaged as Arborio in Italy is actually Volano, a similar variety born in the 1970s. Thanks to PDO specifications, only authentic and historical Arborio rice is cultivated in the Baraggia area, a niche which attracts the interest of cuisine enthusiasts and traditional cultivars.
Slightly smaller than the Carnaroli variety, Baldo rice has a peculiar characteristic: it is the only crystalline Italian risotto rice, i.e. lacking a central pearl. The size and excellent consistency of its grains make it ideal for preparing traditional risotti, while its low amylose contents favour fat-free creaminess.
The crown jewel of the Baraggia area, S. Andrea di Baraggia rice takes its name from the Vercelli Abbey, where it is used to prepare the typical local product, the panissa. We are speaking of smaller rice than traditional ones used to prepare risotti, yet featuring an excellent consistency which allows for the grains to achieve perfect cooking. This variety is highly sought out by chefs as it cooks quicker than other risotto rice, thus cutting service times, and because it releases high levels of starch when cooked, creating the cream that is indispensable for risotti prepared according to the “all’onda” technique. Thanks to these characteristics, S. Andrea rice is very well suited for preparing arancini and croquettes, which require crunchy rice ensuring ideal cooking levels, while also guaranteeing ideal binding levels between the grains.
Due to these particular and unique characteristics, PDO S. Andrea DOP di Baraggia rice was selected by Bocuse D’Or, the most prestigious international cuisine contest, as an ingredient for the European finals held in Turin in 2018.
● Other rice varieties from the Baraggia area
Loto is a Long A-type rice that falls under the Ribe denomination and features a rather large oval grain. Although it does not belong to risotto rice, it offers good cooking properties, making it suitable for traditional Italian recipes such as sartù, timballi, arancini and croquettes, all of which require a two-step cooking, baking or frying process. Loto rice is also well-suited for parboiling, the pre-cooking procedure that allows to obtain rice that does not overcook, highly sought out by catering services and canteens.
Balilla is one of the most historical Italian types of rice: its name evokes the period in which it was selected, in 1924. It features a small round and pearly grain, with less reliable cooking properties than other varieties. This characteristic, along with the natural viscosity of the grains and its thickening properties, have made it an appreciated ingredient for preparing soups and “spoonable” cakes and desserts.
Gladio belongs to the Long B-type rice class, known in jargon as “indica” due to similarities with rice from South-Eastern Asia, characterised by slim and needle-shaped grains. Consumption of this rice was never particularly widespread in Italy, although – thanks to the promotion of Basmati rice from India and Pakistan – consumers have lately started to use this rice as a side dish to accompany meat, fish and vegetable recipes. Its high amylose contents (and therefore low viscosity levels) ensure that the grains remain well separated, an important quality for preparing rice salads.