We all have foods we identify as comfort foods. They are different for each of us, but they tend to be things we remember from childhood. I think anyone who grew up in the North East or near a Greek population is familiar with rice pudding. It appears in every diner, Greek restaurant, and local dive around here. I have always loved ordering it, although I like it better in some places than others. I spent years trying to make my own rice pudding and never being really pleased with the results. Some of the recipes were easy and some were multi-step nightmares. No matter what I always felt they just didn't taste right. I also knew in my heart these diners were not spending a huge amount of time cooking these complicated recipes. They were throwing the left-over rice from the last few days into a pot and creating magic. I continued to hunt and finally I struck gold.
A couple of years ago someone gave me a gift subscription to the Rachael Ray Magazine. I have always enjoyed seeing her on T.V. and I enjoyed reading her magazine. She had a little blurb on one page about a super easy rice pudding. I read it and made a note of it in my mind. The next time I had left-over rice I gave it a try. SUCCESS!! This was the recipe I had been looking for. Easy and wonderful. Then we moved and I lost the magazine. Sigh. I went to her website and did a search for it and, Viola! Since Ms. Ray posts the recipe on the internet, I am going to share it with you.
Rachael Ray's Easy Rice Pudding
- 3 cups milk
- 2 cups cooked white rice
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/3 cup sugar
- Ground cinnamon, generous pinch
- Salt, generous pinch
- In a saucepan, combine 3 cups milk, 2 cups cooked white rice,
1/2 cup raisins, 1/3 cup sugar and a generous pinch each ground
cinnamon and salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer,
stirring occasionally, until the milk is absorbed and the pudding is
thickened, about 20 minutes. Serve warm or let cool, press plastic
wrap onto the surface and refrigerate until chilled. Makes 3 1/2
I always use left-over rice when making this recipe. Since I have usually buttered and salted the rice, I don't add extra salt to the pan. The butter in my rice just adds another delicious layer to the recipe.
Is that not simple, or what? I can sure see this happening in a diner kitchen. I also love that there is very little sugar in the recipe. One thing I disliked about many of the recipes I tried was how sweet they were. I just don't like sickly sweet things. You can see the raisins are mixed in with the rice already. I didn't have a full half-cup of them today, but that doesn't matter. If you don't like raisins, don't add them.
I use 2% milk because that is what I normally buy. Low-fat milk will break and curdle much easier than whole milk. You can avoid this in a couple of ways. You can add a bit of heavy cream to your milk. This ups the fat content and helps prevent curdling. The added butter from my rice also helps. The best thing to do is to just heat the milk slowly and only let it simmer. Make sure to stir it every few minutes. You shouldn't have a problem with curdling if you are gentle with the milk.
Just throw everything in together and put the burner on to Medium.
Once it starts to simmer turn the heat down to Low and stir.
As it gets closer to finishing it will need more frequent stirring to prevent burning.
You can see how it has thickened nicely. When you stir it and can see the bottom of the pan as you pull the spoon through it, it is done. It will also begin to mound a bit as you stir it. Ms. Ray talks about what to do with left-overs of the rice pudding, but I think that is very funny. Left-overs! Snort.
If you want a more decadent version you can always make this with half-n-half. I love it just the way it is. I also love that I don't need to go shopping for anything to make it. I just always make some extra rice when I'm cooking. 20 minutes to comfort food heaven! This is why I love to cook.