Friday, February 6, 2009

Crunchy Brown Rice Pudding

I've decided to take a short break from my chicken and egg series. I'm sure this will be disappointing to my huge reader base (Hi Nicole, Hi Jen). Ok, it probably isn't huge, but I think it was bigger before my chicken habitat post. My husband was actually not able to finish it. I am mystified that he didn't find riveting my discussion of caged vs. cage-free vs. free-range hens.


Anyway...

I have a 19 month old baby. In general, babies drink a lot of milk. This baby drank a huge amount of milk until about 3 weeks ago. As you might guess, I took great pains in making a milk choice for him. I'm not completely resolved in my decision (there will, of course, be an entry about milk and cows sometime), but for now, we get milk delivered weekly from the Longmont Dairy. It's local, it's fresh, and it comes in glass bottles, so there isn't any waste.

For a while, I thought this was great, until I realized, what do you do if you don't use all the milk? Normal grocery-store-milk-buying-folk would only buy what they need and go to the store again mid-week if they needed more. But when you have it delivered, you really need to predict what you'll need.

So about three weeks ago, my son went on a milk strike. Now one would think that I would simply call the dairy and have the milk stopped. That's what an organized person would do. Unfortunately all my organization gets used up at work, which is why I keep forgetting to call. Three weeks later, our fridge has 4 gallons of untouched milk. I pumped breastmilk for my son for eight long months. Every time I open the fridge, I remember that and think about the work those cows put into those 4 gallons of milk. I just can't bring myself to throw it away.

So what can you make with a whole cowload of milk?

Earlier today, I started making yoghurt. It's growing as we speak. I'll update tomorrow on the deliciousness and nutritiousness of my homemade yoghurt.

Then I had another brilliant idea... rice pudding. My son loves rice, and he loves dessert! I'll get milk in him yet, by making him rice pudding.

Using my trusty Ballymaloe Cookery Course cookbook, I got started.

Now this is a pretty simple recipe, which I will paraphrase. Put 2 oz short grain white rice, 1 oz sugar and a knob of butter into a pie pan. Pour over 1 pint of boiling milk. Bake at 350 for 1 to 1.5 hours until the skin on top is golden and the rice underneath is cooked and creamy.

The only white rice I had was arborio rice for risotto. What the heck, I'll see if I can make it with brown rice and just cook it longer. That'll give it the added bonus of being secretly whole grain. Surely an hour and a half is long enough to cook brown rice. I know white rice only takes 10 minutes as compared to 45 for brown rice, but I bet the extra time in this recipe is just to make the milk thicken up and isn't actually needed to cook the rice. In the back of my mind, I heard the haunting advice my sister (of the successful piecrust) has given me many times, "Don't make substitutions to a recipe until you've tried it at least once."

Using a scale to measure out the rice, I realized that 2 oz of rice is a tiny amount, about half a cup. This couldn't be right. Brown rice normally cooks with a slightly greater than 2 to 1 water to rice ratio. Surely 4 to 1 would make rice/milk soup. So as I measured out the rice, I threw in an extra handful, or maybe two. Probably about 3/4 cup rice in all.

I popped it in the oven. An hour later, I looked in - very nice. Golden layer on top, carmel, bread-like smell. I thought I'd better check the rice's progress. To say that it was crunchy was an understatement. You couldn't actually tell that it had started cooking. Is the boiling point of milk lower than water? That possibility hadn't occurred to me. It's too late to turn back now. Just keep cooking it.

An hour later, the layer on top is no longer "golden." More like burnt umber - I don't actually know what color that is, but the burnt part sounds accurate. Uh oh, the milk is completely gone. And the rice is definitely not cooked yet. Maybe I should have used the recommended quantities.

I added quite a bit more milk (I have some to spare), kept cooking and checking.

After 3 hours, I finally decided to throw in the towel. The pudding had cooked so long that the rice on top had dried out and gone crunchy. Or was that the dark, dark brown milk crunching - I couldn't quite tell. The rice underneath was pretty much cooked - albeit al dente style.

I pulled it out with just enough time to give one hastily blown-cool bite to the intended baby recipient before putting him to bed. Thumbs down - bummer.

At least I made a dent in the milk. Even better news, as I was looking for the recipe to reference for this post, I found a recipe for homemade butter. I'm Definitely going to try that. Unfortunately it uses cream instead of milk. Hmm, now I just need a recipe for making cream from milk.

4 Responses:

Nicole said...

The comments are working now!

Anyway, here's another recipe you should try to use up some of that milk:

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Fresh-Ricotta-Cheese-351041

Looking forward to hearing how it turns out.

jennysue said...

yo! i think that crunchy brown rice pudding sounds awesome. oh - and i just pulled out my second attempt at the irish bread - haven't cut it yet (as instructed - i'm a decent student), but it looks damn good. i think the 2 cups buttermilk is too much for this ..altitude..? city?? apt?? it was looking really wet so i added a bit more flour and cranked the heat to 450 - and really, it's goodlookin. and thanks for the shout-out! you are a great blogger. i'm going to go read the others i've missed... hi nicole!

boulderhomecook said...

So, how did the brown bread turn out?

Emmy Lou said...
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