Is rice pudding part of the comfort-food craze? I have not noticed rice pudding nearly as often on menus, in cookbooks, or in the blogosphere as bread pudding. Perhaps it is the snob appeal of using brioche, quality challah, or other artisan breads in bread pudding. The rice pudding from my late grandmother’s recently discovered files, however, is a classic dish of comfort fare.
I distinctly remember my grandmother’s rice pudding, so I was looking forward to making this recipe. Rice pudding is a dessert I enjoy and will make, depending on leftover rice, mood, and other competing dessert priorities.
Last time I had made rice pudding, I followed Rick Bayless’s recipe for his Mexican version with cinnamon and lime, Arroz Con Leche, for my Olympic kick-off party (my theme was dishes from Olympic hosts of the past 50 years – Mexico had hosted the 1968 summer Olympics, and I needed to do something with the four egg yolks leftover from my lemon meringue cookies – a nod to Grenoble, host of the 1968 Winter Olympics). The Bayless recipe is worth a try for a softer, very cinnamony, lime-zesty pudding.
For the detailed recipe and a critique…
Getting back to Jessie’s baked rice pudding, I think this is a superb rendition for those of you who really like baked custard and lighter-on-the-rice examples of the dessert. The custard is fairly rich (six eggs and three cups of milk), though the dish is not overly sweet. This is an elegant rice pudding, which perfectly would cap-off a comfort-food dinner party (a mixed green salad and daube de boeuf, for instance) or lunch (home-made tomato soup and freshly baked bread) or even a brunch or breakfast, for that matter, if you consider what goes into Rice Krispies and omelets – these ingredients would be comparable and probably more wholesome!
The eggs I had on hand were from happy free-range island chickens – available in a big Coleman cooler, to be purchased on the honour system – just up our road. I have noticed that these eggs tend to be extra-large or large. The egg cartons cost $4/dozen and always contain a hodge-podge of many different chicken breeds, with tan, mocha, white, and pale blue-green shells. I do wonder if the larger eggs I had might have resulted in a firmer custard than I recall (certainly mine was a deeper yellow, based on the island-chickens’ rich diet) or whether it is an issue of memories varying from reality, once again.
I remember that my grandmother grated nutmeg on top, so I included that, even if she did not have it specified on the recipe card. While I know Jessie used “Uncle Ben’s Converted Rice” – from what religion it converted, I know not – I used my standard white rice, Thai Hom Mali ( jasmine rice). The jasmine fragrance provided a delicate counterpoint to the nutmeg. Comfort food trends aside, I believe this rice pudding is a retro classic worth making again.
Rice Pudding, from Jessie’s recipes
- Six eggs, slightly beaten
- 3 cups of milk, scalded, and cooled
- 3/4 cup of sugar
- 1 cup of cooked rice, Thai jasmine works well (leftovers from the fridge will do just fine)
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- Mix all ingredients together.
- Pour into a greased oven-proof dish.
- Place dish into larger pan filled with very hot (or boiling water) for the full bain marie treatment.
- Bake for 55 minutes or until set (a knife inserted will cut a firm edge, which holds its shape, in the custard).
- Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled, depending on your preference and mood. Berries or whipped cream couldn’t hurt, either.