Rice Pudding w/ Two Toppings

With a newborn comes a drastic shift in the household pantry. Powdered formula is now the staple food. We buy a ton of milk: the half-gallons jammed onto the top shelf of the fridge. Brutish and unquenchable, the milk appetite around here will only (if I remember from kid #1) get worse, though not, I suspect, by Utah standards.

Typically all that milk goes straight into the coffee cup or cereal bowl or a cake or something. I bought a home cheese making book once, visions of turning our cleaning supply closet into a cheese cave stacked with wheels of cheese, replacing the smell of comet with a rich breeze of new goaty pastures and acorns.

A few pages into the introduction I learned you need a few hundred dollars of stuff and a cavernous cool space. On the walk back from the Strand, the $1.50 they dole out for new books in my pocket, I hit upon some ideas for milk cookery, approachable and family friendly enough to transform kitchen habits nationwide.

  1. braising meats and chicken. Anthony Bourdain has a great recipe (French classic, actually) called porc au lait in which a pork roast is braised in milk and the braising liquid used for a bechamel. It was delicious. Post to come.
  2. Oven braising chicken. Sounds weird but I read of the idea from the chef at now-defunct Cru, and it turns out a tasty, moist breast.
  3. Rice pudding. Enough said. Recipe to follow.

I usually eat rice pudding Indian style, flavored with cardamom, but I think this humble version is better. It’s good hot, room temp. or cold. However, it’s not as easy as you might think: the rice has to be al dente in a magic merge with the milk; also, if you’re serving it cold, the stuff tends to firm up in the fridge, which is okay, but you may want to leave it floating in a tiny bit of extra milk to avoid this fate (it’ll taste fine either way). Pom seeds add crunch, acid, and color, but you could go w/ lemon curd, berries, or some kind of tart compote such as strawberry-rhubarb.

As a bonus to our readers, we offer a version with lemon curd. I like to stir in the seeds and drop on a little curd. Red and yellow looks nice.

Rice Pudding w/ Pomegranate Seeds

Serves 4

1 ¼ cups Arborio rice
3 cups whole milk
¼ cup sugar
seeds one pomegranate

1. Combine rice, sugar, and milk in a small pot. Bring to boil over medium heat, reduce to low heat and stir constantly for about ½ hour (flip on the tv or something). The pudding is done when rice absorbs liquid but is creamy and pourable rather than dry. Serve hot or room temp. If serving cold, cool to room temp before storing in fridge. Sprinkle with pom. Seeds.

Rice Pudding w/ Pomegranate Seeds and Lemon Curd

Serves 4

Rice Pudding (see above)

Seeds from one pomegranate
Zest of 3 lemons
½ cup lemon juice (from about 3 lemons)
½ cup sugar
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
½ teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into small pieces

  1. Bring 2 inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan.
  2. Add all ingredients except butter to a heatproof bowl, whisk constantly over the water until thickened, about 7 minutes. Remove, let cool to room temp and whisk in the butter.
  3. Strain if you feel like it. Otherwise, pour in a container and press a piece of plastic wrap on top to prevent a skin from forming. Top with a tight cover and refrigerate.

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