Creamy and smooth arroz con leche, Peruvian style!
Plated arroz con leche with coconut
If ever I had a culinary nemesis, it is arroz con leche, or ride pudding. Yes, I know, it's pretty dang simple and only has a couple handfuls of ingredients but have you ever tried to make it? I could never get a consistent batch. Sometimes it would come out perfectly. Sometimes I'd end up with crunchy, uncooked grains of rice. In this short and sweet post, I'll give my humble opinion about what can make a consistently creamy batch of arroz con leche, with a Peruvian twist.
Also, please know that you can add all the toppings! It need not be nakey. So good!
Rice pudding recipes have been documented for at least 400 years and rice cultivation has taken place between 13,500 to 8,000 years! There are two main original types of domesticated rice. One has its origins in Asia, the other in West Africa. The rice that is most popular and widely used around the planet today is that which was cultivated in what is now China. That rice made its way to Europe, and then to the Americas, by way of India and the Middle East. Just as we've been consuming rice for thousands of years, we have been creating just as many recipes using the grain, many savory and some sweet.
To make rice pudding, either short grain or long grain white rice is most commonly used. Many recipes that I have seen call for making the rice with milk, sugar, and varied spices and raisins. In my quest for making the most consistent and creamy pudding, I have found using already cooked rice, even over cooked rice, to make the best. I have also used day old or leftover unsalted or minimally salted rice. There are many, many recipes for Latin American styles of arroz con leche. You can spice and flavor it however you'd like but this simple version evokes for me the street vendors of Lima with their red and gold carts. Not only could you smell the sweetness of the arroz con leche wafting over the flowers in Parque Kennedy but the vendors would also have fruity mazamorra morada as an option to eat with it. You can check out my recipe for the purple corn pudding from a previous post!
So, amig@s, enjoy this super simple recipe for a consistently creamy pudding! This is a party size recipe because more is always better! Buen provecho!
Arroz con leche - Serves 20-30
4 cups white long-grain rice
9 cups water, plus more if needed to thin out pudding
4 cinnamon sticks
2 teaspoons whole cloves
1 orange or lemon, just the rind (optional)
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup cane sugar or less depending on desired sweetness
2 cans evaporated milk (12oz cans)
2 cans sweetened condensed milk (14oz cans), plus one more can for topping
2 pinches salt
Powdered cinnamon, for topping
Grated coconut (optional), for topping
Wash rice until water runs mostly clear. Set aside.
In a large soup pot (with a heavy bottom), place 9 cups water with cinnamon sticks, cloves, and pinch of salt. (Add orange rind here if using.) Bring to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes, until you can smell the spices.
Remove cloves (and orange or lemon rind, if using).
Add washed rice, bring to boil. Stir then cover and set to simmer for 20 minutes. About halfway through, stir rice and cover again.
At the end of 20 minutes, stir one more time. Turn off the heat and let sit for 5-10 more minutes. Test rice when time is up to ensure rice is cooked all the way through. If it is not, stir and cover and let sit for another 5 minutes.
The rice will now take up about half the height of the pot. Add evaporated milk and raisins. Turn the heat back on. Bring to a boil then set to simmer.
Add sweetened condensed milk and pinch of salt. Allow to simmer for 35 more minutes, stirring consistently so it does not catch on the bottom of the pot. Stirring will encourage creaminess.
Add additional cane sugar, if needed. Let simmer for 5 more minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks.
If the pudding is too thick, add a bit of water to loosen it to the desire texture.
Serve it warm, room temp, or chilled (not cold) with a sprinkle of powdered cinnamon on top.
For an extra punch of flavor and texture, top with a drizzle of sweetened condensed milk and/or grated coconut.