Sunday, 29 December 2013

Old-Fashioned Rice Pudding

Now this is real comfort food. Creamy tender rice simmered in milk and cream, simply flavoured with vanilla and a few rasps of freshly grated nutmeg… and a blob of homemade raspberry jam. Heaven!

I love it.

Although there are many exotic variations available these days (some using basmati rice, coconut milk) my favourite has to be the good old-fashioned version, using short-grained rice cooked in sweetened milk/cream. When the weather is horrible outside and the evenings are long and dark, one spoonful of this is like getting a huge big warming hug.

This is a pudding that reminds me of my childhood and in its simplest form, it is a very economical dish to rustle up. You can enrich it with egg yolks and butter or make it using cream alone, but I don’t think that this is absolutely necessary; as the rice cooks it releases some of its starchiness into the liquid which serves to thicken it and create a rich texture in the mouth. I do like to use a little double cream though, mainly because it lends a lovely creamy taste to the finished dish.

Rice pudding can be baked in the oven but the recipe that I give here is cooked on the hob. This creates a very creamy version without the caramelised skin that you get when you bake it, but I love both versions. This was just the one that took my fancy today!
 
I have specified “pudding rice” in the ingredients listing, which is something readily available in Irish supermarkets, but this is essentially short-grain rice and is interchangeable with any good risotto rice in this recipe. I have made it using both Arborio and Carnaroli risotto rice and they were equally as good as the “pudding rice”!
 
One last thought – I love nutmeg and I think that it is an absolute necessity in this pudding. Don’t use the ready ground version as it tends to go stale quite quickly. Add some freshly grated nutmeg just before serving and you will be rewarded with a gently spiced warmth that just compliments the creaminess of the pudding so well.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Ingredients:

150g pudding rice
900ml milk (full-fat)
300ml double cream
1 vanilla pod, split open lengthways and the seeds scraped out
50g caster sugar
Freshly grated nutmeg
To serve:
Jam or stewed fruit of your choice
 

Method:

1. Put the rice, milk and double cream into a medium sized, heavy-based saucepan along with vanilla pod and its seeds. Bring to a gentle simmer over a low heat and cook, stirring regularly for just over an hour until the rice is soft and has swelled.
2. Stir in the sugar and add a little freshly grated nutmeg. Remove the vanilla pod.
3. Serve hot, with a generous spoonful of jam or seasonal stewed fruit on top. (I used homemade raspberry jam, because it is my favourite).

Serves 4-6.