Riz au lait (French rice pudding)
4-6 servings
The exact cooking time is hard to pin down in a number. You want to cook the mixture until it resembles runny oatmeal and a good amount of the liquid is absorbed by the rice, but there’s still some liquid in the pot. (You don’t want to cook it until all the milk is absorbed.) The rice pudding will thicken up as it stands. If it’s too stiff after it cools, you can thin it out with a splash of milk or cream. For non-dairy people, I’ve made this with rice milk and it works well, although the pudding will be decidedly less-rich. Using come coconut milk would probably add richness, if you want to use that in place of half the rice milk. If you don’t have vanilla bean paste, or if you prefer, you could use a whole vanilla bean, split lengthwise, in place of the vanilla bean paste, which you can add in step #1. (In case you’re wondering why I add a bit of vanilla extract, whether using vanilla beans or vanilla bean paste, I find that vanilla extract adds a more rounded vanilla flavor, even if using a bean or paste.) If the pudding is too stiff or thick once cooled, thin it with a bit of milk or cream, to bring it to the consistency you like. I like my rice pudding with this amount of sweetness, but you can reduce the amount of sugar to 4 tablespoons in step #1, then add more when the rice pudding has finished cooking., to suit your personal taste.
1 quart (1l) whole milk
2/3 cup (140g) white rice, preferably round rice
6 tablespoons (75g) sugar, or to taste (see headnote)
Big pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract, or a combination of both (see headnote)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Finely-grated zest of one lemon or orange, preferably unsprayed
1. Mix the milk, rice, sugar and salt in a medium-to-large saucepan. Heat, stirring occasionally until the mixture comes to a boil.
2. Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook, stirring frequently (to keep the rice from sticking together, as well as to the bottom and sides of the pot), until the rice is almost tender and much of the liquid is absorbed, about 20 to 25 minutes. Add the vanilla paste, if using, and continue to cook until the pudding mixture resembles very loose oatmeal and the rice grains are tender, which may take up to 15 minutes longer over very low heat.
3. Remove the heat and stir in the lemon or orange zest and vanilla extract, if using.

Serving: Serve the rice pudding warm, at room temperature, or cold. It’s fine on its own, with a dusting of cinnamon, or some candied almonds. In France, it’s sometimes served with salted butter caramel sauce.

To make the candied almonds, heat 1 tablespoon of sugar and water together in a skillet, stirring just until the sugar is melted. Toss 1 cup (80g) of sliced almonds in the syrup. Strew the almonds over a parchment- or silicone mat-lined baking sheet, sprinkle with flaky sea salt, and bake in a 350ºF/175ºC oven for until golden brown and caramelized (about 20 minutes), stirring twice during baking, to prevent clumping. (Recipe adapted from The Perfect Scoop.)