arroz con leche, rice pudding inspired by abuelas
I have a confession to make. I have an addiction to competition. The need to succeed is a wonderful thing but sometimes it distracts us from our real passions and aspirations. For the past month I’ve been allowing my desire to win a food52 contest consume me (along with a lot of sangria, biscochitos, flan, a beef heart, two beef tongues and a huge pot of arroz con leche). I abandoned gabrielaskitchen and lost the true reasons behind my love for the kitchen.
I cook to feed the taste buds, the panza and the corazón. I cook to keep traditions alive. I cook because Alex needs to eat and if he must eat I will feed him well.
I’ve decided to temper* the competitive culinary tigress in me, to return to making humble meals in my kitchen and to share them with you along the way. Returning to my kitchen will take me back to my grandmas’ kitchens and to one of my favorite comfort foods, arroz con leche.
*food52, I’ll still be around, I just won’t be obsessing!
Arroz con leche, is translated to ‘rice with milk’- I grew up calling it ‘sweet rice’ and most people refer to it as Rice Pudding. Each one of my grandmothers had her own version of this slightly sweet and cinnamon-y rice. I remember slurping Grandma Lucy’s soupy sweet rice, which was dashed with gigantic milk engorged raisins. Grandma Ida’s concoction was more like custard; her arroz con leche was thick and topped with foamy egg whites and sprinkled with cinnamon.
Both grandmas made arroz con leche in abundance for Lenten meals and Grandma Ida always whipped up a special batch for my cousin Selisha or my birthdays (it was both of our favorites)! Grandma Ida cooked me one last batch of sweet rice at 82 years old as a surprise for my high school graduation party, it had her signature flavor but a little too much crunch- the rice had not fully cooked! Of course, I smiled and ate it happily anyway, it was made with love!
This is a subtly sweet twist on my New Mexican grandmother’s traditional “sweet rice.” The fluffy egg-white topping comes from grandmother’s original recipe, the lemon zest and rum soaked raisins are my additions from other traditional Mexican ones.
3 cups milk
1 cup water
2 cups long grain rice
zest of 2 lemons
1 14 oz. can evaporated milk
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup raisins (optional)
1/4 cup spiced rum (optional)
dashes ground cinnamon
1. (Optional) Heat rum in a small sauce pan remove from heat and add raisins and stir. Set aside.
2. Place milk, water, rice and lemon zest in a medium heavy-bottom sauce pan. Bring to a gentle boil, once boiling, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the rice is tender. Remove from heat.
3. Add the can of evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk. Place back on low heat and stir occasionally until milk has thickened slightly, for about 5 minutes. Make sure you DO NOT BOIL the rice pudding at this point. If desired add raisins. Remove from heat and keep covered with a lid.
4. Meanwhile, in a large bowl separate egg whites from yolks. Whisk whites until frothy. Pour frothy whites atop the rice pudding and cover with lid. Cook on very low (do not stir) so the eggs become fluffy and firm.
5. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Serve warm or chilled.