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Pitching rice into wagon. Crowley, Louisiana.  September 1938.  Russell Lee, photographer (1903-1986) Courtesy of Library of Congress

Pitching rice into wagon. Crowley, Louisiana. September 1938. Russell Lee, photographer (1903-1986) Courtesy of Library of Congress


I’ve been making this rice pudding for forever – since the 1970s? Anyway, it’s the single greatest rice pudding you’ll ever eat, bar none.

4 cups milk
1 cup rice
1 vanilla bean*

4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 to 1 cup raisins, plumped

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To plump the raisins, place them in a bowl and pour boiling water over them, letting them sit for five to ten minutes, then drain and use. For additional flavor, you can soak them in hot water mixed with bourbon or rum.

Cook milk, rice and split vanilla bean in a double boiler at medium heat for about 45 minutes, stirring from time to time. Do NOT boil the milk/rice mixture. If it starts simmering, lower heat so it does NOT boil.

Mix together egg yolks, sugar and cream. Stir egg/sugar/cream mixture into rice and milk. Now you can raise the temperature a bit (not too much, you don’t want to burn it). Bring to a boil. Not a HARD boil, where stuff is splashing out, but more than just a simmer.

Remove vanilla bean. Pour into baking dish/dishes. Brown quickly in very hot oven (450 degrees) or under the broiler.

Serve with whipped cream (optional – as in like who has time when you’ve got this delicious rice pudding to put in your mouth?)

*Vanilla bean can be difficult to find, even more difficult to find vanilla beans that aren’t dried out and hard. You can substitute a teaspoon (or two) of pure vanilla extract added at the end, when you would otherwise remove the vanilla bean. I recommend Trader Joe’s Pure Bourbon Vanilla Extract – it has no sweetener in it, which, to me, is as it should be.

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