Rice Pudding in the Oven


The term comfort food is overused. But not here: There is nothing more soothing.
TIME About 2 hours, mostly unattended
MAKES At least 4 servings
⅓ cup any white rice
½ cup sugar
Pinch salt
4 cups milk


Method
1 Heat the oven to 300°F. Combine the rice, sugar, salt, and milk in a large gratin dish that holds at least 6 cups. Stir a couple of times and put it in the oven, uncovered. Bake for 30 minutes, then stir. Bake for 30 minutes longer, then stir again; at this point the rice might be swelling up and the milk should begin to develop a bubbly skin (if so, stir it back into the mixture).

2 Cook until the rice plumps and starts to become a more noticeable part of the mixture and the skin becomes more visible and darker, about 30 minutes more. Now the pudding is getting close to done, so check on it every 10 minutes, stirring each time (it should reach the right texture in 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the kind of rice you used).

3 The pudding will be done before you think it’s done. The rice should be really swollen and the milk thickened considerably but still pretty fluid (it will thicken more as it cools). Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.

Variations
  • 5 Ways to Change the Flavor
1 Substitute coconut, soy, rice, or nut milk for the milk.
2 Stir in a piece or two of whole spice (cinnamon sticks, cloves, or nutmeg) at the beginning of cooking.
3 Stir in a teaspoon of grated citrus zest at the beginning of cooking.
4 Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract after cooking.
5 Add up to ½ cup chopped toasted nuts right before serving.

Tips
  • You’ve got to use white rice in this recipe, but you have some choices: Longgrain aromatic rice (like basmati or jasmine) will deliver the most delicate texture and fragrance. Short- or medium-grain white rice (like Arborio) will be more thick and chewy. Supermarket long-grain rices will be somewhere in between.

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