Growing up I was always amazed at my mother’s ability to mentally retain recipes and execute them flawlessly without ever consulting her cookbook. Nearly hopeless in the kitchen, God help me if I don’t have a paper printout of the dish with precise, step-by-step instructions. In the past I have tried to recreate a recipe, oftentimes one that I have watched her prepare countless times, and I inevitably forget something of vast importance. This recipe, however, is one that I have never failed to prepare properly (as long as I have my notes to glance at!)
Literally translated from Spanish as “Rice with Milk,” the main ingredients are white rice, milk, heavy cream, and sugar. Arroz con Leche is a simple dish that can be eaten at any time during the year, but is most often consumed in the colder months. The Latin American answer to the English Rice Pudding, this delectable concoction can be served hot or cold and is typically garnished with a sprinkling of ground cinnamon or cinnamon sticks and a sprig of mint if you want to be fancy.
Although not the most nutritious meal to consume, it is similar to other Latin dishes in that it is calorie-dense and meant to keep you full for many hours. Rice, when paired with a hearty serving of beans, combines to make a perfect protein and can completely take the place of meat. This is beneficial to many Mexican residents, both in the past and the present, as the level of poverty is relatively high, especially in rural areas. Unfortunately, the lack of portability of this dish does not allow it be served while on the go or while working out in the fields.
6 – 2 inches of a cinnamon stick
2 – 2×1 inch strip of orange rind
5 cups rice
8 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
3 cup sugar
1/4 cup raisins
Ground cinnamon, for garnish
Add cinnamon sticks, orange rind, and water to a large saucepan. Boil for 10-15 mins to release flavor.
Add rice and return to a boil Once the desired temperature has been reached, stir once and turn down to medium/low heat. Simmer 20 minutes.
Let stand for 5-10 minutes to absorb all the liquid.
Remove cinnamon sticks and orange rind. Fluff to break up any lumps. DO NOT mash.
Using a rubber spatula, stir in the milk and sugar. Be mindful to scrape the bottom of the pan to avoid burning the rice. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, (10 to 15 minutes.)
Add heavy cream. Simmer over medium low heat, stirring frequently, (10 to 15 minutes.) If desired, add raisins during this time.
This dish can be served warm or cold, garnished with a sprinkling of ground cinnamon.
Argueta, Jorge, and Fernando Vilela. Arroz con leche: un poema para cocinar = Rice pudding: a cooking poem. Toronto: Groundwood , 2016. Print.
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