Though I have seen rice pudding with long-grain and basmati rice, I am committed to this arborio version. Just try it… you will know why.
I have to say, after dipping my spoon a few-too-many-times into this dreamy pudding, the nostalgia hit me. My grandmother (who incidentally also loved canning, gardens, hummingbirds and apparently dreamy pudding) used to make a creamy rice for Sunday dinners. It wasn’t made with arborio—I think it was a short-grain rice. But it was sublime, memorable and worth the seemingly long drive to her home. We ate it with melted butter and brown sugar. Eating this sublime treat—any time of day or night, mind you—brought me right back to Sunday family meals and eating ‘grandma’s rice.’
Some part of me knows she is smiling. Some part of me knows that this rice will be made frequently and forever at my home. Yes with arborio: I did marry an Italian after all… arborio rice is fitting for what will hopefully someday be called ‘Janelle’s Rice,’ or ‘Aunt Janelle’s Rice’ or brace yourself: ‘Grandma’s Rice.’ Where in this case, someday in the very far distant future: I am the grandma. An unfettered smile crosses my face, at the thought of signature dishes. I hope to have many.
One of mine will be this very rice. And always topped with something special, thoughtful, homemade.
My kids, friends and neighbors will take bites upon bites of this homey concoction. It will make James smile. When anyone is down, unsuspecting or passing through: this warm rice pudding with homemade jam or fruit compote will appear. Frequently to the point of familiarity, evolving into a trademark of my urban farm kitchen.
Arborio Rice Pudding
1/2 cup arborio
4 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split
1/2 tsp almond extract
optional and recommended: your favorite summer preserves or jam for topping.
In large pan place first 4 ingredients. Bring to gentle boil, then simmer 30 plus minutes. Taste for doneness; it should soft and plump. Take off heat, add in extract. You may serve at room temperature or warmed – I adore it warmed with my favorite, preserved Peach, Plum & Ginger Compote. But don’t be shy: rhubarb strawberry jam, brandied peaches, raspberry sauce…