For this cook, a proper, carefully made rice pudding is the glory of all British milk puddings. It is an intensely lactic arrangement of two perfect partners, so simply wedded that it almost beggars belief. I don’t understand the inclusion of egg yolks to thicken it; nor do I like it made in the style of a risotto, though quite popular, these days. No, that which truly appeals to me is the quietly slow absorption of what seems to be a tiny amount of rice, by a veritable flood of milk, left to get on all by itself until sporting a delicate, golden-brown skin and all wobbly beneath. And, together with that enticing fragrance of nutmeg and vanilla… Well, it is, quite simply, a gorgeous thing.
|100g||pudding rice (or Spanish paella rice)|
|½||a vanilla pod, split lengthways|
|A pinch||of salt|
|Plenty of freshly grated nutmeg|
You will need a flameproof casserole.
Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/gas mark 2.
Melt the butter in a solid-based, flameproof casserole and add the sugar. Stir around and heat gently until gooey, then add the rice and vanilla pod, and continue stirring until the rice looks a touch puffed and sticky with sugar. Now, gently pour in the milk, which will seethe around the rice causing the volatile rice/butter/sugar mixture to set into lumps at once. However, fear not, for as you stir around in this milky mess with the aid of a wooden spoon, within minutes any sugary lumps will soon dissolve into the milk as it heats up. Continuing to stir, add the cream and salt, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Once this is reached, give the mixture a final stir and grate at least a third of a nutmeg over the surface (do not stir again). Pop into the oven and bake for about 60-90 minutes; if the surface burnishes too quickly, lay a loose sheet of kitchen foil over the pudding. Once there is a very nice, thin, tarpaulin-like skin on the surface and the pudding only just wobbles in the centre, it is ready; remember, the rice will continue cooking a little as the heat wanes within. Serve at room temperature.