Arroz con leche. This is the kind of food you could make a life-long wedded commitment to. I can see it now: arroz con leche and me, for better or for worse, through sickness and health…we’re talking true love, here.
I was lucky enough to learn how to make this authentic Spanish dish from my new Spanish mother, Maria Josefa, when I went to Spain last summer. I stayed with my relatives who live in my great-grandfather’s house in Arlos–it’s a tiny, tiny 400-person farming village in Asturias, Spain–and I am officially obsessed with the people, the culture, and yes. THE FOOD. So don’t hesitate to try out this recipe for rice pudding a la español…you won’t regret it.
Warning: In order to fully enjoy this dish, you must abandon all efforts to eat healthily. Forget low fat. Forget sugar-free. Calories don’t count when you’re in España, right? Trust me, surrender to the sugar and heaven is yours for the tasting.
(Apologies in advance for the less-than-exact instructions…I was frantically scribbling notes down while Maria Josefa ran around the kitchen adding things to the pot).
What to Do:
1. On high heat, put 7 cups of milk and 1 cup of water in a pot on the stove
2. Soak 1 cup of rice in a bowl of water at room temperature for about 2 minutes, then drain and pour rice into the pot
3. Add a slice of lemon rind about the size of your index finger
4. Add a stick of cinnamon and a pinch of salt
5. Stir the pot in the SAME direction with a WOODEN spoon for about an hour (Maria Josefa was very specific about the stirring and the spoon type…it’s all a mystery to me, but I wouldn’t question her)
6. Add 2 tablespoons of margarine and a dash of “crema de anis” (anise liqueur)
7. Once the mixture is very thick, add 12 heaping tablespoons of sugar (remember what I said about surrendering to the sugar…just do it.)
8. Pour into three wide bowls and if you want the burnt sugar top coat, layer on even MORE sugar, and then…
9. Burn the sugar until golden brown—this looks so cool! (See the picture above). Feel free to skip this step if you don’t happen to keep an electric branding iron in your kitchen…I know I definitely don’t have one, considering I don’t even know the proper name for this appliance, but I thought I’d mention it anyway.