Every time I go to a decent restaurant and see rice pudding on the menu I have to have it. In my opinion to impress someone with a mille feuille is easy, you don’t have them often and they always taste great but to impress someone with as simple a dish as rice pudding is a challenge.
This happened last weekend at Bistrotheque in Bethnal Green (@BISTROTHEQUE). We had a 3 course meal, every dish as perfect as the last. We started with cocktails – I had a cucumber flip which was sublime. The glass had been rinsed in Ricard before pooring in the flip and so with every refreshing cucumber-y sip came a faint aniseed taste – INCREDIBLE. (Recipe to follow when I buy Ricard)
Then came the starter, lardons, frisee, poached egg. To be honest at first it looked pretty but basic, after I started eating it I realised that the egg was done to perfection and the lardons were some of the nicest smoked bits of meat I’ve ever had. Confit duck leg and green beans followed, literally a leg of confit duck on a pile of green beans. It looked as if I was going to be left hungry but I wasn’t at all. The portion size was perfect. I haven’t had as nice confit duck in the Dordogne!
And then came the pudding, the rice pudding, damson jam, toasted almonds. Simple but perfect! A few glasses of wine later and it’s definitely one of the top 3 meals I’ve eaten in London! Bold statement I hear you say, maybe, but it’s definitely worth the visit.
There are certain things that you don’t realise how brilliant they are until you’re older, for me rice pudding is one of them. I don’t think I ever appreciated as a little boy the subtle flavours you can add and versatility of the dish. Also, it’s very easy to make, is filling and you can make it very cheaply. This is my version of the one I ate at the restaurant, please don’t be put off by the long cooking time as you literally don’t have to do anything, the prep time is about 3 minutes!
(Serves 3-4, Cooking time including prep: 1-2 hours)
75g pudding rice
1 ½ pint whole milk
3 tbsp sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
- Turn your oven to 160 degrees centigrade
- First you need to rub butter onto the buttom and sides of your casserole/baking dish
- Put rice, sugar and milk in the pan
- Place in the oven
- After about 45 minutes take out the oven, stir well and grate a good amount of nutmeg over the surface
- It’s done when there’s a thin layer of skin on the surface (my Sisters favourite bit) and there’s still a bit of a wobble in the centre
- Serve with toasted almonds and whatever jam you have in the cupboard, I went for dark cherry jam.