The curious name of this typical Mantuan dish originates from the dialectal name of the rice-workers:
in casteldariese, in fact, the rice factories are called “pile,” and the “pilots” or “pilarini” were precisely those who worked there. Since the work in the “pile” took place continuously, there was not much time to devote to the preparation of lunch, and this technique allowed to cook the rice without it being necessary to follow the cooking. At the end of the cooking process, the rice is seasoned with pistume, even though originally the seasoning was more simply a fried onion.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Rice alla pilota, or riso alla pilotta, is a typical dish of the Mantuan cuisine, particularly on the left side of the Mincio river in the Virgilian province, as well as of the Bassa Veronese.
Rice is cooked in boiling water. In a separate pan, fry in butter, the pisto (pork pistume), and when the rice is cooked, add the seasoning, mixing everything with grana cheese. The name “pilota” derives from the person in charge of the “pila,” a sort of mortar where the rice is peeled and cleaned. Tazio Nuvolari, a famous car driver from Mantua, was very greedy of this dish, to the point that it is said (improperly) that the name “alla pilota” is dedicated to him.[without source].
The particular cooking “alla pilota,” in fact, allowed the pilotta, or the laborer in charge of husking rice, not to lose time to check the progress of cooking and continue his work.
There is also a variant of the dish, known as “col puntèl,” due to a grilled pork chop, rib, or sausage on top of the rice, which forms a single dish.
The Pilot Rice of Castel d’Ario, typical of the territory of Castel d’Ario, in the province of Mantua, has acquired the status of “De.C.O.” (Municipal Denomination of Origin). There is also a variant referable to the town of Villimpenta, which has been certified at a notary(?) in Mantua, with the filing of a Recipe of risotto alla Villimpentese, which prescribes ingredients and cooking times.
Regional Recipe from Lombardy, Veneto
Production area Mantua, Verona