Puddings are generally overlooked. It is not like they are on high end restaurant menus, unless it is some type of bread pudding topped with some spectacular bourbon sauce. One will mostly see puddings in a cafeteria or diner, we always had them in the dessert display at the diner I worked. I grew up eating pudding. Ma made hers mostly from scratch, our favorites being tapioca or rice. To get extra calories and nutrition in us, she often snuck an egg in there too, making them more rich and custard like.
Pudding to me is a comforting dish. I am known for serving Rice Pudding this time of year to dinner guests. Shocking isn’t it? Such a simple dessert for guests? Let me tell you it is a show stopper served in a huge bowl still warm topped with cinnamon or nutmeg, maybe even a dollop of fresh whipped cream. People mmm, mmm their way to the bottom of their bowl and talk of a grandma’s or an auntie’s meals gone by. Puddings can do that you know. We all look at each other and wonder why we don’t make it more often. I was approached last week by a friend and she asked that the next time I make my Rice Pudding could I give her some. No problem. I made a double batch as I knew my family would like some too.
THE SECRET TO GOOD PUDDING
To make a good pudding it must be slow cooked. Patience is key to its success. I have been known to always burn the first batch as I always tried to rush it. Most of my recipe cards for this requested recipe read, “Burn first batch then proceed again.” So be patient and cook it low and slow. Another helpful tool is a heavy Dutch oven. Other pots work but the Dutch oven distributes the heat better and decreases the chance of scorching. Also keep it moving. That means to stir it frequently, not constantly, just very frequently. If you do happen to scorch it a bit, as some has now stuck to the bottom of your pot, do not scrape it. Simply pour the entire batch into another pot and continue cooking it in the new pot. Hopefully you have caught it soon enough!
In a large heavy pot or Dutch oven over med high heat bring rice, milk, half and half, and salt to a gentle boil. This will take some time, don’t rush it. Lower heat to low and simmer for 40 minutes until thickened. Do not cover. Remember to stir frequently from start to finish to prevent sticking, clumping, scorching and causing that thick film to form on top. If a skin does happen to form, simply skim it off with a spoon. Remove from heat and add sugar and vanilla. Stir well. Place in pretty serving bowl and serve warm or place covered with plastic wrap to cool in refrigerator. When ready to serve sprinkle with nutmeg or cinnamon. Serves 6-8. We love it served warm.
Hint- To prevent a “skin” from forming on your pudding while it cools, cover with plastic wrap being sure the plastic is directly on the surface of the pudding and that no air bubbles between the pudding and wrap are present.