Of all the crazy things not to like as a kid, why did I pick rice? Rice is one of those light but filling foods that seems to complement anything. And yet, somehow it ended up in the same category with hot dogs and mushy peas. Luckily, tastes matured and now I can down rice with the best of them. Especially when the rice is in the form of pudding. Creamy. Sweet. Flavorful. It’s no surprise that some form of rice pudding can be found in almost every culture worldwide. There’s something about a warm, fragrant bowlful that seems to suggest that while there is rice pudding, all’s right with the world. And this version, made with lemon zest, vanilla bean, and cinnamon sticks, tastes just as heavenly and comforting as it smells.
Fragrant Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding
- 1 1/2 cups uncooked white rice
- 6 cups milk (any kind is fine, we use whole milk for a creamier pudding)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 vanilla bean
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- zest of one lemon
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
In a medium-sized pot combine rice, salt, cinnamon sticks, lemon zest, and 5 cups milk, and set over medium heat. Using a sharp knife, split the vanilla bean pod and scrape the vanilla beans out of the pod, then add both to the pot. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture starts to boil. Reduce heat to low and continue stirring until pudding has thickened and rice is cooked (about 25 mins).
Remove from heat and stir in the last cup of milk and sugar. Whisk in the egg until thoroughly combined. Return mixture to stovetop, and cook over low heat until mixture thickens and just begins to boil. Remove from heat, cover, and let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Serves six. (That is to say, it could…)