I always think of rice pudding as something you do with leftover rice. I know others disagree — for some, rice pudding is the main event. As rice pudding lacks chocolate, this is a position I don’t entirely understand.
But, apparently, the rice pudding lovers of the world are not alone. A recent scan of my cookbooks revealed a bevy of recipes that begin with measurements for dry, as opposed to cooked, rice, and then the directions for cooking the rice before adding the milk and cream. But let’s say you just made rice-stuffed peppers and now you have some leftover rice and a seven year-old is coming for dinner and his mother’s advice — “He’ll eat anything as long as dessert is in play,” — is ringing in your ears? What then? Then, this:
Cherry Vanilla Rice Pudding
2 cups cooked rice
1 ¾ cups whole milk (really, you have to use whole milk)
1 ¾ cups half-and-half
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
½ a vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1/3 cup dried cherries
In a 3 quart pot, bring rice, milk, half-and-half, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium low (or lower, depending upon your burner) to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook, uncovered, stirring regularly until the mixture is thick, about 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring occassionally, for about 15 more minutes until the mixture is quite thick. Remove from heat and stir in cherries. Pour into six custard cups. You can either eat it warm or cover the cups with plastic wrap, refrigerate and eat it chilled.