Riz au Four – Baked Rice Pudding (from I Know How to Cook by Mathiot, 1932)

This week will be Treat Week on PGA; reserved for the indulgent, naughty and just downright wicked dishes of your dreams.  Now I know you’re thinking I have quite a few treat weeks; tarte au chocolat, crème brûlée, tarte tatin… and yes, I might be accused of enjoying the finer things in life, but now I’m devoting a whole week to them.  Yippie ki-yay!  (Well, this has been Die Hard week too.)

The first recipe of the week might be a little controversial.  Rice pudding has a terrible reputation in the UK thanks to the overcooked, under-flavoured baby-sick slop served up by schools.  There are few things that inspire equal dread in an English heart as a rice pudding; it’s up there with queuing in the Post Office or a penalty shoot-out in the World Cup finals.

A real rice pudding though, with tender but bite-y grains, dangerous levels of vanilla and the heady sweet sensation of nutmeg, is a wondrous thing.  The kind of dish that makes everything feel right again in the world.  I call it Prozac Pudding; when I feel sad, it never fails to pick me up.  So naturally I had to learn to make my own.

Thankfully it is supremely simple and the results were as serotonin-raising as hoped.  This should be prescribed on the NHS.

Need This (for 4)

20g butter / 2 pints milk / as much vanilla extract as you can handle / 175g sugar / 250g pudding rice / ground nutmeg

Do This

Fan oven 150° / Boil milk & vanilla extract / Add sugar / Rinse rice & drain / Grease dish with butter / Put rice in dish / Cover with boiled milk mixture / Dust ground nutmeg over top / Oven 50 mins to 1 hour until skin looks golden & rice creamy

Look at that welcoming nutmeg-speckled skin.

Look at that welcoming nutmeg-speckled skin.

Steaming with vanilla smells, I could dive right in.

A bowlful of happy drugs.