Thursday, November 25, 2010

The holiday prep begins...with Swedish Rice Pudding

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m spending the holiday at Foxtail, my in-laws gorgeous mountain home in Winter Park, Colorado. It is the perfect retreat from a busy past few weeks.

This morning I’m making the first of many holiday dishes – Risgrynsgröt, Swedish Rice Pudding. This is a classic that I grew up with every Christmas, and there are several traditions linked to it.
In Sweden, instead of leaving cookies for Santa Claus you leave him a bowl of Risgrynsgröt. It is also an indispensable part of the Swedish “julbord” – the large spread of Christmas goods including Swedish meatballs, red cabbage, fish and various breads and potato dishes. Legend has it that the person who gets the “hidden almond” in their risgrynsgröt will be married within the next year! We had a lot of girls in my family, so my mom always threw in a few extras to keep everyone happy.

Traditionally, Swedish rice pudding is made with long-grain white rice, but I discovered Smitten Kitchen’s trick of using Italian Arborio rice and I really like this so much better – it gives the pudding a much creamier texture.

 Swedish Risgrynsgröt Recipe
Serves 4

- 2/3 cup Arborio rice
- 1¼ cups water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 1/2 cups milk (I use 2%)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 blanched almond
- Sugar
Add rice, water and salt to a pot. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, then take it off the heat and let sit for 10 minutes so the rice can absorb some of the water.

Put the pot pan back on stove, and add milk, cinnamon and the almond. Once it starts bubbling, reduce heat to low and stir frequently for 25-30 minutes until the pudding is thick and no longer looks “soupy”. Add sugar for sweetness (I only add 2 tablespoons since traditional Swedish rice pudding is not sweetened until served). Serve with strawberry jam, or a sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar. Another option, which my mom always does is to chop up a bunch of almonds and add those while the rice is cooking. This gives it a nice crunchy almond texture, but you still just have one whole almond for one lucky person.

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