Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Old Fashioned Rice Pudding

So, a week or so ago I went to my dad's office during lunch to let the kids visit. The office had some Chinese food brought in and they were cleaning up the left overs. Hardly anyone had touched this huge pan on plain white rice. They looked at me and said, "Do you want this? I know you want this. You can make it into something!" Then my "sister" (I call her that because I've known her since she was born and I was 7, but she's really just a really good family friend.) said that I should make some more rice pudding. She said that she didn't used to like rice pudding until she tried mine. :)  So, I reluctantly took this huge tray of rice home with a mission to cook rice pudding with at least some of it.
   The problem being that whenever I make rice pudding, I never follow a recipe. I remember reading my grandma's recipe before and it called for cooking the already cooked rice in milk for a good 25 minutes, so I generally follow that part, but other than that I just make it by feel. (FYI: It's because of my grandma's recipe that I called this "old fashioned" rice pudding.) So usually, I don't even have a guideline such as: this much rice + this much liquid + this many eggs. I just dump and pour. Stir and taste. And adjust as I go along.
   Well, I wanted to try and blog this, and get some sort of a recipe out of it. I think it turned out rather well! Is it exactly like what I served my "sister" when it changed her rice pudding loving life? Probably not. But it is very tasty! And now I have these guidelines to look back on if I'm ever curious as to how I did it before. :)

It starts with cooked rice. I did a small batch because I didn't want a lot of it left over, because I'm trying to eat more healthfully and I knew if I made a big batch I would just eat it all.  So, 2 cups of cooked rice went into a medium sauce pot.

Then I added 3 cups of milk. (Cream and half and half are also acceptable choices.)

I prefer to add cinnamon sticks, but I don't have any at the moment so I added some ground cinnamon instead. (If I had the sticks I would add 1 stick to the pot.) I added 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon, but 1/4 tsp probably would have sufficed. It wasn't overly cinnamon flavored but you could definitely tell it was there.
I cooked the rice and milk mixture over medium low heat, stirring frequently for about 25 minutes. You want the rice to be very soft and the milk to be almost completely absorbed.
FYI: If you are a fan a raisins in your rice pudding (which I am NOT) then you would add them now.

Next came the sugar. I had to make adjustments with this as I went along, because my incredible husband is fondly referred to as the "sugar natzi" - so I try and use as little sugar as possible in something that I want him to enjoy. I started with 1/3 cup and ended up adding 1/2 cup total by the end. This made it pleasantly sweet, but not overtly so. I would suggest adding the 1/2 cup and then tasting the final product. If you like it sweeter, then add some more. (BTW: I love these sugar pouring shots. The sugar crystals always look so lovely.) :) 

I turned the heat to low and cracked one egg into a bowl. (I actually used my 1 cup measuring cup that I used previously to measure my milk. - That's the white around the edges.)

Using a fork, I whisked the egg as I slowly drizzled in a little of the hot rice/milk mixture. You want to tempure the egg, so that it doesn't scramble. By slowly bringing up the temperature it will more easily combine with the other ingredients and become a smooth pudding, instead of a chunky mess. You need to whisk quickly and add the hot liquid slowly. - Needless to say I didn't have 3 hands so I could take a picture of this process. This is my final product. I added about 1/2 cup total of the rice/milk mixture. The measuring cup is very warm to the touch and the mixture is smooth.

I poured the egg mixture into the pot slowly as I mixed the rice pudding with my wooden spoon. (I quickly took this shot of starting to pour the egg in and then promptly put down the camera, grabbed my spoon and stirred quickly so I wouldn't get any scrambled eggs.)

I cooked the pudding for about another minute over low heat and then turned the heat off.

I grated in a little nutmeg (1/8 tsp?)

And stirred in a pat of butter. (Sorry, the flash makes the butter hard to see. It was about 1 Tbsp. - If I had started with cream I probably wouldn't add the butter at the end. I just needed some more richness that I wasn't getting completely from the milk.)

The pudding has thickened nicely. (I turned the flash off so you could see.) :)

Last, but certainly not least, I add a splash of vanilla. I never add this. I just pour in a little. No more than 1 tsp.

Serve it up and sprinkle to top with a little more nutmeg or cinnamon (optional garnish of course) and that's that!

I chose to serve it up in a punch cup. I think it looks rather pretty. You could cool it down, if you like your pudding chilled, but just note that if you are using left over long grain rice (like Chinese take-out rice) it will harden up in the fridge. My hubby likes it that way. He says it gives the pudding texture.

I, on the other hand, like my rice pudding soft and warm from the pot. Just give me a spoon and I'm set. Ah.
Here's the recipe:

Old Fashioned Rice Pudding

2 cups cooked rice
3 cups milk (half and half or cream would work also)
1 cinnamon stick (or 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon - to taste)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg, beaten
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp butter (if using cream you can omit this)

In a medium sauce pan, add the rice, milk and cinnamon.  Cook, over medium low heat, stirring frequently, until the rice is very tender and the milk is mostly absorbed. Add the sugar. Slowly pour 1/2 to 1 cup of the hot rice/milk mixture into the beaten egg as you whisk the egg quickly. You want to gradually bring up the temperature of the egg, so it doesn't scramble in the pan.  Turn the heat down to low and slowly add the egg mixture back to the pan, as you stir quickly. Cook for one more minute, stirring constantly, until the pudding thickens. Turn the heat off. Add the nutmeg and vanilla and stir in the butter (if using).  Let it sit for about 5 minutes (so you don't burn your mouth!) Serve immediately or chill for later use.

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