Italy is Europe's largest producer of rice. The wetlands and cool temperatures of the Lombardia region harbor ideal conditions for growing the special rice. Over the centuries, resourceful Italians developed a unique cooking technique combining rice with other ingredients common to their area, resulting in the classical Italian dish known as "risotto". The key ingredient for authentic risotto is Arborio rice. Arborio's characteristics and cooking properties allow it to absorb the flavors and to retain a certain firmness through the unique "risotto" cooking procedure. The texture and cooking properties of imported Arborio rice coupled with saffron, the world's most expensive spice and is the classic risotto dish of Milan. 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 like Osso Buco.
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