When I lived with my parents I used to try to outshine my mum in the making of the rice pudding we always had to finish Sunday lunch, but I could never quite match her superb results. I eventually gave in and asked her for her secrets, which are now incorporated into this recipe. Possibly the most important criticism she made of what I did was that I served my pudding straight from the oven – she always arranged for hers to finish cooking about 45 minutes before it would be served, thus guaranteeing the right consistency and a perfect skin.
The reason I call this ‘old-fashioned’ is that restaurants today tend to speed things up by cooking the pudding on top of the stove, producing more of a sweetened risotto. The proof of this pudding is the skin.
Preheat the oven to 130°C/gas 1.
In a heavy-based pan (preferably cast iron) about
Bake in the preheated oven for about 1½ hours. At no point should you disturb the pudding, otherwise you sacrifice the formation of the skin.
After this time, open the oven and, without removing the pudding, gently wobble the pan being careful not to break the skin – there should be a little movement under the skin, as if the pudding is not set. If you think there is too much movement, leave it in the oven for a little longer. When you are happy with the consistency, remove the pudding from the oven. Residual heat will finish the cooking and this can take at least 30 minutes, at which point you will have a delicious creamy pudding. If by this time the skin has not developed as much as you want, you can cheat by finishing it under a moderately warm grill.
Eat lukewarm or even cold.
© 2008 Anthony Demetre. All rights reserved.