You will find with English cooking that there is almost always a French equivalent, and it’s almost always better.
And so it was with rice pudding, which did surprise me, despite what I’ve just written. I really thought the French were too sophisticated for rice pudding! Anyhow, I’ve no picture of mine and that’s well and good – despite its wonders rice pudding is not the most photogenic of dishes and, as with curry or casserole, I struggle to present it in a way which reveals its true splendour. Discrete tiny objects, like sushi or strawberries seem to photograph the best when it comes to food, in my opinion.
I used this recipe by Raymond le Blanc from his website. I reduced the milk to 1500 ml and added 25 ml double cream as I was using semi-skimmed not full fat. It also seemed a little sweet but maybe that’s right. You can play around with these. I didn’t do the caramelising either. You can make the first stage earlier in the day and finish the other stage while you eat dinner. The dish can be served on its own (when you might want to caramelise) or with poached pear or peaches in vanilla. I’ve reproduced the original below.
1700ml Full fat milk
100g Caster sugar
2 tbsp Best Vanilla extract
150g Short grain/pudding rice, washed in cold water and drained
2 tbsp Icing sugar (for dusting)
50g Caster sugar to caramelise the top (optional)
Make the rice pudding an hour or two in advance.
For the initial cooking
Put the milk, sugar, vanilla and rice into a large saucepan over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Turn down to a gentle simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring from time to time. During the last 5 minutes, stir slowly and continuously to prevent the rice from sticking. At this stage it will be three-quarters cooked.
To finish cooking in the oven
While the rice is simmering, preheat the oven to 150°C/Gas 2. Pour the rice into the baking dish and bake for 30 minutes. Leave to stand in a warm place for 1–2 hours. Sprinkle with icing sugar to serve. Or to caramelise and serve cold Allow the baked pudding to cool completely. Preheat the grill to high and sprinkle the caster sugar evenly over the surface of the pudding, using a sieve. Place under the grill for 2–3 minutes to caramelise, then leave to cool for 10 minutes before serving.