Sunday, 20 May 2012

The Essence of Rice Pudding

Last week, we found a tin of rice pudding in the back of our kitchen cupboard. Its best before date was 2005.

Yes, 2005. And tins last a long time before their best before date, too. It could well have been ten years old.

I'll add at this point that we have actually been living in our current house for nine years this summer.

Still, I'm sure it's perfectly normal to have tins that are ten years old in your cupboards... right?

We haven't actually opened it yet, although my mum is confidently planning to eat it when she does. She's much braver than me.

Finding the tin made me remember how much I used to love rice pudding when we had it school. I never had school dinners very often, and not for very long in my childhood either. But when I did, it was the rice pudding I looked forward too. They used to give us a spoonful of chocolate shavings on top, and there was always a harsh divide between people who mixed it in as it melted (myself included), and people who left it on the top while they ate it.

As you can tell, I was inspired to try and make my own rice pudding. Although I was doubtful that it would be much like the rice pudding of old school dinners, I felt like it was the right thing to do.

Now enters the next debate. Everything I found online about rice pudding kept talking about the skin on top, and making it in the oven. Was I missing something? Rice pudding - the sloppy, porridgey stuff, right? What skin? Why on earth would it be in the oven?

Turns out that I had somehow missed out on the fact that rice pudding is indeed often made in the oven. But I decided I wasn't having any of it. I'd never wanted skin on my rice pudding. And anyway, all the oven recipes took hours - what on earth would be the point?!

So I made it on the stovetop. Deal with it. If you want skin on your rice pudding, you have a problem.

The ratio I worked out is pretty simple:

2 Rice : 16 Milk : 1 Sugar : 1 Butter

The method is easy too. It really is just porridge, but with a different kind of grain - rice instead of oats.

  • Put the rice and milk (full-fat) into a saucepan. Bring it to the boil and simmer for ages. Depending on the amount, it'll probably be at least 25 or 30 minutes, and possibly more. Basically you can tell it's done when it sort of looks like rice pudding, to your taste. The milk will have reduced and thickened a lot, and the mixture will be all gloopy. Make sure you stir it regularly while it's boiling otherwise it'll stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • When it's done, at the sugar and butter and stir in until it's all dissolved and melted.
  • Then it's ready to serve. Chocolate shavings optional.

And you know what? It did  taste like school rice pudding. EXACTLY like it, in fact. It was uncanny. It was the most nostalgic flashback in a mouthful I've ever had. And I loved it just as much as I always had.

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