Spiced Rice Pudding
The term comfort food is overused. But not here: rice pudding is incredibly soothing. It’s creamy, but not overpoweringly rich, which can actually be a nice way to end a heavy meal. Rice pudding is also an incredibly divisive dish (people tend to either love it or hate it), so if yours is one of those Thanksgivings where the liberal and conservative parts of your family just argue the whole night no matter what, this could very well be the perfect dessert.
Makes: At least 4 servings
Time: About 2 hours, mostly unattended
1/3 cup any white rice
1 ⁄ 2 cup sugar
4 cups milk
1 whole cinnamon stick
2 or 3 cloves
1 piece whole nutmeg
1. Heat the oven to 300°F. Combine the rice, sugar, salt, milk and whole spices in a large gratin dish that holds at least 6 cups. Stir a couple of times and put it in the oven, uncovered. Bake for 30 minutes, then stir. Bake for 30 minutes longer, then stir again; at this point the rice might be swelling up and the milk should begin to develop a bubbly skin (if so, stir it back into the mixture).
2. Cook until the rice plumps and starts to become a more noticeable part of the mixture and the skin becomes more visible and darker, about 30 minutes more. Now the pudding is getting close to done, so check on it every 10 minutes, stirring each time (it should reach the right texture in 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the kind of rice you used).
3. The pudding will be done before you think it’s done. The rice should be really swollen and the milk thickened considerably but still pretty fluid (it will thicken more as it cools). Remove and discard the whole spices. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.
Recipe from How to Cook Everything: The Basics (Photo: Romulo Yanes)