Thursday, 11 August 2011

Rice Pudding

Recipe: Rice Pudding in the Microwave (mostly).

This is my personal favorite method to make a quite nice pudding... by cheating.

You need butter, flour, milk, sugar and rice. None of the quantities will be exact... but roughly 50g, 1tblsp, 250ml, 1tblsp, and 1 cup respectively. It's the amount most cookbooks say would serve four - but if you try that you'll need ice-cream too.

Boil up the rice. It needs to be slightly overcooked so it's sticky but not gluggy. This is the longest part - the bit that makes it into a pudding only takes about five minutes. So if you do the rice normally, you can let it stand during the next bit, then drain, it should work out OK.

What we're gonna do is make a thick, sweet, white sauce and mix it in.

Using a microwave safe jug, I use a 2l pyrex jug, melt about 50g of butter. Needs to be completely liquid. Usually takes about 20-30secs. Stir in a tablespoon of flour. Any flour will work, I like to use self-raising flour: it makes things more fluffy. A rounded tablespoon is usually enough. The mixture should be wet but not runny.

Heat a cup of milk. That's a metric cup - 250ml. The milk should not boil, just warm. 30-40secs should be enough. The idea is that it shouldn't make the butter/flour mix go solid when you mix it in. If the milk gets a skin on top, it's too hot.

Gradually stir the milk into the jug. It won't mix evenly so don't worry.

Nuke for 2mins, then stir. A wire whisk is brilliant for this.

At this point you want a glossy, plasticky look. About the consistency of toothpaste.

Often it comes out too thick, that means too much flour. That's OK, just add more milk, a dribble at a time, and stir it in, until you get the right consistency. If it is too thin, don't worry right now, just go on with the next step. So you should err on the side of too runny.

Sometimes the mix has seperated. In this case, it will be liquid on top and almost solid under that. You'll need to break up the solid part and mix it in - squashing where needed. It can help if you interrupt the nukeage halfway to give it an extra stir. This isn't as bad as the lumps you get in gravey, they usually blend in. Even if they don't, the next nuke will get-em.

Stir in the sugar. It's a pudding so it has to be sweet. I use fine brown sugar for this.

Add flavouring if you want. Baileys is good, a dash of vanilla, caramel or butterscotch works well. This is usually needed since the regular method of making rice pudding in the oven lightly burns (caramelizes) the lactose in the milk, turning it into... caramel.

Now, if you added a mashed banana at this stage, you could portion it out and chill it overnight, and you'd have banana pudding. Add half a cup of your favorite cheese and you have a simple pasta topping (leave off the sugar). But this is rice pudding so drain that rice and stir it in.

Nuke for another 2mins and stir. If it wasn't too runny though, only go for another minute. You only need to cook in the flavor.

This time it should be a good consistency, holding it's shape when moulded. As before, if it is too thick, slowly add more milk. If too runny you have a problem: add flour, a level table-spoon at a time, stir it in, and re-nuke for a minute, until it's right or too thick.

You can keep it warming in the oven until it is needed. Portion up, garnish and serve.

Restaurants use an ice-cream scoop or some sort of mould. A 1-cup measuring cup works well. Then it can be served on a plate, and it looks good. People have been known to pour over a thin sauce like a glaze - caramel, chocolate, or a fruit sauce works well. Some pour a shot of brandy over it and set it on fire!

This is a very versatile and forgiving recipe, and, best of all, you can't burn it.

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