If you like rice pudding at all, this is for you. When I first read this recipe for thick, slow-baked rice pudding in Laurie Colwin's More Home Cooking, with her description of how the lemon peel dissolves into the pudding, I stuck my thumb between the pages and went straight to the kitchen.
This is the ultimate comfort food, scented with lemon, and not very sweet, so perfectly acceptable for breakfast. The best part is the creamy texture, with the rice dissolving into transparent bits that melt on the tongue. Even if you are not one of those who love all things pudding, give this a try. It's absolutely heavenly.
Colwin lifted this straight from Jane Grigson, and so I have no compunction about offering it here to you. I really think she would approve.
Lemon Rice Pudding
Serves 2 to 4. As served up by Laurie Colwin.
1/4 cup rice, jasmine or basmati
2 cups half and half (or 1 cup milk and 1 cup cream)
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon rum, optional
Preheat the oven to 250°F. Peel the lemon with a vegetable peeler and cut the peel into fine strips. Mix the peel, rice, sugar, half and half and rum, if you want it, in a small ovenproof dish. Put in the oven and cook uncovered for about 2 1/2 hours, stirring every 45 minutes or so.
When this comes out the rice will have almost dissolved, becoming more like tapioca than anything else. It will thicken quite a lot as it cools. Chill, if you like your rice pudding cold. I can't wait that long, and eat it barely out of the oven.
• Half and half makes a very rich, thick pudding. I have used 2% and whole milk, which also make the pudding thick and creamy, and I really prefer them to a richer cream.
• Be very, very sure that you don't take any of the white pith off the lemon with the peel. You want only the very top of the rind, as any white pith will add a bitter note.
• Having said that, still follow directions and use whole peel; finely grated zest doesn't seem to work as well.
• The pudding will look loose and liquid even when it's finished. It will firm up considerably as it cools.