Sunday, January 1, 2012

Rice Pudding

I used to make rice pudding somewhat frequently when I lived abroad, but for some reason it had fallen out of my repertoire for a few years. Elspeth was requesting black sticky rice the other day but we usually get it at the Thai restaurant near us and that didn't fit into our plans. I decided to make a more traditional Euro rice pudding to see if she liked it.

I turned to my standby in Patricia Wells' Bistro Cooking. She uses vanilla bean and the zesty of lemon and orange to flavor the rice. Being short of lemons, I just used orange zest. Evan felt this gave it an "elegant Creamsicle quality" and I agree.

Rice pudding is such a cheap, simple and comforting dessert, equally good hot or cold. If you don't want the citrus notes, you could use only vanilla or you could add cinnamon. I think that American rice pudding often has raisins in it, so you could try that, too. I would use Wells' technique with any variation because I think the recipe is bound to work better using blanched rice and heated milk.

INGREDIENTS
1/3 c. (65g) raw white rice. She recommends long-grain but I used arborio-style with great success
1 vanilla bean or 1tsp vanilla extract
3 c. (75 cl) milk
Pinch of salt
Grated zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon (or any combination, optional)
2 TBSP (30g) unsalted butter
1/4 c. (50g) evaporated cane juice or vanilla-infused sugar

DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F (165 C)
  2. Wash and drain rice. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with water by an inch or two. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse with warm water. Set aside
  3. Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. If you want, you can clean and dry the empty pod and then stick in your sugar jar to scent it with vanilla
  4. Put the vanilla seeds, milk, salt and zesty in a large saucepan. If using vanilla extract, don't put it in yet. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to keep it from boiling over. (I didn't boil the milk. I felt scalding should be enough and it was)
  5. Take pan off heat and stir in the butter, sugar and vanilla extract, if using. Stir to dissolve the sugar and let cool slightly
  6. Stir rice into the warm milk mixture and pour into a 1 quart oven-proof dish. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour 40 minutes. Check at 1 hour 30 minutes. You shouldn't need to stir the rice. You know it's done when nearly all the liquid is absorbed
  7. Remove from oven and let sit a few minutes before serving. Serve hot, warm, or cold. Excellent for breakfast