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Classic Novara Rice

Paniscia di Novara
Novara is situated in the Po plain near the border of Lombardia. It has a beautiful historic center and is noted for its agriculture, especially rice cultivation. A classic rice dish is panissa or paniscia. There's no true panissa out of Italy but you can get very close. Use Vialone nano (preferred) or Carnaroli rice, Both will keep their structure while cooking, without releasing too much starch, although the Vialone nano, being a semi-fino grained rice, will perform much better in texture than Carnaroli. Typical salame used is fresh spiced pork meat preserved under lard (Salam d'la Duja - salame sotto grasso) and is a delicacy rarely found outside of Piedmont.


1 cup borlotti beans (cranberry beans)

1 carrot

1 rib celery

2 shallots peeled, one left whole and oneminced

2 garlic cloves, one left whole and one minced

2 bay leaves

3 ounces salt pork (cottene di maiale)

12 ounces Vialone nanno or Carnaroli rice

1 tablespoon tomato sauce

1/2 cup Barbera or other red wine

Salt and pepper

1 cup minced soppressata or cotechino


Soak the beans the night before. Next day,drain the beans and transfer them to a 2-quart soup pot. Add the carrot,celery, whole shallot, whole clove garlic, and bay leaves. Cover with water and cook them for 45 minutes to an hour. They should remain al dente. Let them cool in the liquid.

In a small skillet cook the salt pork until it begins to release its fat. Add the minced shallot and garlic and cook over low heat until they soften. Stir in the rice and toast it over medium heat. Stir in the tomato sauce. Stir in the wine and allow it to evaporate. Add 5 to 6 ladles of the reserved bean broth and cook for 15 minutes on medium low heat. Do not stir the rice too much. Keep adding broth until the rice is almost cooked. Stir in1/2 cup of the cooked beans. When rice is almost cooked, stir in the remaining beans, the salame, and a good grinding of black pepper.

This recipe is featured on show 1905 - Piedmont Cooking.



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