The air felt cool and crisp when I got up this morning and the sky looked grey while I was thinking about making breakfast. It was a late breakfast this morning. Usually even in May I start cooking before or right around sunrise, so it was a luxury to be able to step outside to take a peek at the weather. Feeling in the mood for some comfort food, I decided to make a pot of Arroz Con Leche. Arroz Con Leche – a sweet and creamy rice dish – is a dish that I love, but don’t make often enough in part because I often feel too pressed for time in the morning and in part because I know that if my guests don’t eat it all, I will finish off every last bite myself. This morning, though, I decided that I could deal with both of those things and just when I was done cooking the rice, I noticed that the cloud cover had broken and the sky turned to sunshine.
Arroz Con Leche
(makes 8 side dish or 4 main dish servings)
1 3/4 c. to 2 1/4 c. water
1 stick good quality cinnamon
2 wide strips of orange zest about 2″ long
1/2 t. salt
1 c. long grain rice
4 c. whole milk
3/4 c. granulated white sugar
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/2 c. mixed dried berries or currants
(1) Place 1 3/4 c. water, cinnamon stick, orange zest and salt in a medium sauce pan. (It is good to use a pan with a glass lid so that you can keep an eye on the rice once it gets added.) Cover pan and bring water to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes.
(2) Add rice to the pot and simmer, covered, until rice is tender and water has been absorbed, about 10 to 20 minutes. (The time will depend upon the heat of your stove and the type of rice you are using.) If the water is absorbed before the rice is tender, add a little more water as necessary.
(3) Once the rice is tender, stir in milk, sugar and vanilla extract. Cook rice and milk over medium to medium low heat, stirring frequently, until the milk has thickened just slightly, about 20 minutes. Do not let the milk boil.
(4) Once the milk has thickened slightly, remove the cinnamon stick and orange zest. Stir in dried fruit. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar before serving. Serve warm.
Note: I tried many rice pudding recipes before I settled upon this one – based on Rick Bayless’ recipe from Mexico One Plate at a Time (Scribner, New York, 2000) – as my favorite for breakfast. It goes nicely with fruits such as sliced bananas or diced mangoes.