RICE PUDDING WITH CARAMEL
Creamy rice pudding is called terrinée, a Normandy specialty that is baked long and slowly, sometimes overnight, in an earthenware dish so it develops a deep brownish crust. In a recent trend, farmers earn a bit extra by making dishes like this at home for the many visitors who tour the countryside. In this version, the rice is simmered in milk, then baked in a dish lined with caramel. When unmolded, the pudding stands high with a gleaming gold top, a robust country version of crème caramel. Orange flower water, nutmeg, even bay leaf are alternatives to vanilla and cinnamon as flavorings. Terrinée may be served warm or chilled, plain or with fresh berries or fruit compote.
1 quart/1 liter milk, more if needed
½ cup/100 g short-grain rice
1 vanilla bean, split
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons/45 g sugar, or to taste
3 eggs, beaten to mix
For the caramel:
½ cup/100 g sugar
¼ cup/60 ml water
1-quart/1-liter soufflé dish
1. Bring the milk to a boil in a saucepan and stir in the rice, vanilla bean, cinnamon, and salt. Simmer the rice over very low heat, uncovered, until very tender, 40-50 minutes. It needs stirring from time to time, particularly towards the end of cooking so a skin does not form; if the rice gets very stiff, add more milk. When ready, all the milk should be absorbed, so the rice is creamy but still falls very easily from the spoon. Stir in the sugar, adding more to your taste, and leave the rice to cool to tepid. Remove the vanilla bean, rinse and set it aside for another use. Heat the oven to 350˚F/180˚C.
2. For the caramel, have the soufflé dish nearby, and gently heat the sugar and water in a small saucepan without stirring until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat, bring to a boil, and boil steadily without stirring until the syrup starts to color. Lower the heat and continue boiling until the syrup turns to a dark caramel, 5-7 minutes total. Watch closely, as the caramel will color quickly and will burn if overcooked. Take it from the heat, let the bubbles subside for about 5 seconds, and pour the caramel into the mold. At once, while the caramel is still hot and liquid, tilt and turn the mold to coat the base and sides. (Take care, as the caramel is very hot.) Leave it until set, about 5 minutes.
3. Stir the eggs into the cooled rice and pour it into the lined mold. Line a roasting pan with a dish towel, set the mold in it and pour in boiling water to make a water bath. Bring the water to a boil on the stove top and transfer the pan to the oven. Bake the rice pudding until it is just set in the center, 35-45 minutes. Take it from the water bath and let cool. The rice pudding may be baked ahead and kept covered, in its mold, for up to 2 days in the refrigerator.
4. To finish, run a knife around the edge of the pudding and turn it onto a deep platter. It will come out easily and a small amount of caramel sauce will form at the bottom of the dish. It may be served chilled, or at room temperature, or on a cold day warm it briefly in a low oven. It is delicious at any temperature.