Mexican Style Rice Pudding

Growing up, my mom had a pretty expansive repertoire and you could feel her love for us through her cooking.  She cooked us every meal at home, from scratch.  Desserts were always her forté and this is my all time favorite.  I remember coming home from school and being extra excited when Arroz con Leche, or rice pudding, was just off the stove.  Many rice pudding recipes contain sweetened condensed milk, but I prefer this version because it is just barely sweetened and all the flavors are harmonious, never one overpowering.  Fair warning – this recipe requires constant attention.  Patience is a virtue.

Arroz con Leche

4 1/2 c Whole milk

2 Cinnamon sticks

1 – 3 inch long Orange peel

1 cup of Long grain white rice, rinsed and drained

1/2 scant cup of White sugar

Grated cinnamon for sprinkling each serving

Place milk, cinnamon sticks and orange peel in a 2 qt saucepan over medium-high heat.  Watch the pan closely as it’s heating so it does not boil.

When the milk is just under a boil, take in the incredible aroma and then remove the orange peel and newly expanded cinnamon sticks.

Stir in the rice.

Stir the pot gently for the entire first 10 minutes, keeping the mixture always under the boiling point.  All that stirring will help the rice release its natural starch and create the creamiest pudding – think risotto.

After 10 minutes, bring the heat down to medium-low and cover the pot.  Check on the rice every minute or so, giving it a stir each time.  Do this repeatedly for about 15 more minutes, or until the rice is tender and the milk has thickened into a luscious sauce.

Stir in the sugar and allow to cool slightly.  The sauce will thicken a bit more as it cools.  Sprinkle with grated cinnamon before serving.

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