I wanted to start this section with a traditional dessert but I was not sure what was good enough for this page until today.
My little girl have been with a flu for a couple of days and I wanted to do something nice to try to cheer her up, then I remember that when I was little my grandma use to make me puddings when I was not feeling well and this recipe came to my mind in a flash. I hope that you enjoy it.
Arroz con leche/rice pudding
Rice puddings and its varieties can be found on almost every country of the world and because of the simplicity of the ingredients and the easy cooking methods used, it has made it an excellent and well known dessert around the whole world.
- 250 gr of white short grain rice (Valencia rice or similar) you could use a most rich variety as Arborio rice ( medium grain rice) or similar for a more whole cook look on the rice pudding.
- 1lt of milk
- 100 gr of Sugar
- 4 aromatic cloves
- 2 Cinnamon sticks
- 2 lime
- 1 lemon
- Cinnamon powder
- 40gr of Butter
- Rice: almost any varieties of white rice can be used for this dish depending of what are you looking for and what do you have available. I do like a really creamy rice pudding and for this recipe I like to use a variety of rice that have a lot of starch, Today I have used a risotto rice variety: Arborio rice
- Milk: the quantity of fat on this dish will tell you the consistency and creaminess of the dish but if you want to avoid the fat, is not a problem if you use a low fat milk and add some egg yolk to add consistency. Even so I will still recommend full fat or semi skimmed.
- Sugar: you can use any kind of sweetener for this dish: brown sugar, white sugar, honey, Demerara sugar, sugar cane or any other that you will prefer, in my country we normally use Panela or Papelon. As I am really far from my country we have substitute this for Demerara sugar
- Lime and lemon: on this occasion we will only need the skin of the lemon and the lime. you can use a knife and remove the skin without using the white part of the skin or use a Zester
- the rest of the ingredients can be eliminated or substituted depending of what you prefer on some areas of the world they add raisins, dates, liquors, coconut milk, almond milk and similar
- Place the milk, the rice, the sugar, the
Cinnamon stick, and half of the lime and lemon zest on a sauce pan and put into the fire at medium heat, mix time to time to make sure that it does not stick on the button of the pan.
- Cook slowly to make sure that the rice absorb the milk and the spices and it cooks to the right consistency with out overcooking, if you use to much heat you will finish with a dry rice, probably not cook, and you will need to add more milk to rectify the heat what will make the rice soft outside and still hard inside .
- When the milk has reduced to almost nothing and the rice is cook, start adding the pieces of butter slowly and mixing constantly to make sure that you get a creamy consistency.
- Remove from the heat and from the pan when you have reached the desired consistency.
- Finish with a bit of cinnamon powder and a bit of the lime and lemon zest.
Understanding the cooking: there are really little techniques involved on this dish but there are a few things that you should be aware of.
- There are some recipes where they recommend to wash the rice. The only reason for doing this will be that you are not interested to have a creamy rice as you are eliminating part of the starch by washing the grain, if you are not looking for a creamy consistency try using a thinner rice, eliminate the fat from the recipe or as I mentioned wash the rice before cooking it.
- I have found some recipes where they pre-cook the rice on boiling water before cooking it on milk, the reason for this is to do this dish faster by precooking the rice the only thing that is achieved is reduce the cooking time. I still prefer the long process as you will have a really milky taste on the rice.
- In some cultures they like the rice pudding really liquid or really thick, to achieve this you need to understand a couple of things. To get the rice thick you will need a starchy rice grain, some fat on the recipe and you could use some egg yolk (at the end of the cooking) to get a more compact rice. To make it more runny but at the same time creamy the easiest way is to add more liquid on the recipe.
- On certain areas of Latin America we add raising to the rice pudding but previously we marinated them with rum or any sweet wine, add them last minute or you will have a darker rice because of the raisins.