Italy is Europe's largest producer of rice. The wetlands and cool temperatures of the Lombardi region harbor the ideal conditions for lush rice fields. Resourceful Italians combined rice with the many other items common to their area and developed a dish they lay claim to. It is known as risotto. Rich, creamy risotto is one of Northern Italy's gastronomic delights. The key ingredient in authentic risotto is the short, thick grained rice known as Arborio. This rice is the perfect grain for risotto because its texture and cooking properties allow it to retain firmness throughout preparation. Risotto should always be prepared al dente which means tender yet firm to the bite.
Alessi Risotto alla Milanese is the classic risotto dish of Milan. Arborio rice is coupled with saffron, the word's most expensive spice. This robust, intensely flavored dish is the most highly regarded of all risottos and is usually served with meats cooked in a red or wine sauce.