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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Baked Rice Pudding with Plum Compote

Albuquerque and surrounding areas had fewer late freezes last spring so fruit trees have provided a season of plenty. We have been eating our fill of stone fruits, canning jams and jellies, and giving fruit away to friends and co-workers. My plum harvest had finished several weeks ago but a week ago I was given a bucket of plums. At the same time this recipe showed up in my email. David Lebovitz, one of my favorite food writers, posted this just in time.


Baked Rice Pudding with Plum Compote

Serves: 6-8

The surface of the pudding may begin to caramelize. Lebovitz simply stirs it into the pudding.  

Lebovitz uses "Italian prune plums" which are cling-free and easy to work with. I'm not sure what kind of plum I had but they didn't want to easily release their pits. In addition, they were juicy but worked fine even though the compote was rather runny.

Lebovitz points out that this recipe can be varied to accommodate your flavor preferences. I used cinnamon sticks and allspice rather than using a vanilla bean (I'm running low). I think you could use a teaspoon or so of vanilla extract if you want. He also mentions nutmeg, orange zest, orange flower water or cardamom seeds. If you like, you can add raisins, dried cherries, or dried cranberries before you place the mix in the oven. 

The recipe calls for white wine in the compote. Lebovitz indicates that you may substitute water or apple juice.

For the pudding:

1/2 c short-grain rice (I used Arborio)
1/2 c sugar (if you plan on a sweet topping you may want to reduce this amount)
1/4 teas salt
1 vanilla bean, halved and scraped, or a cinnamon stick or another of possibilities listed above
4 c whole milk
2 T butter, salted or unsalted, cubed

The oven should be preheated to 325F.

In a 2-quart (or larger) baking dish that has sides 2-3 inches high, mix the rice, sugar, salt, and flavorings. Add the milk and stir it into the other ingredients. Drop the cubes of butter on top. 

Place in the oven (if you have any fear of a boil over, put a rimmed baking sheet underneath the pudding). Stir the rice every 10-15 minutes, scraping the bottom of the dish to ensure that nothing sticks and scorches. If the top begins to brown, just stir it in. 

Bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes. The pudding will be finished while it still is quite runny looking, rather like a very lumpy pancake batter. You can taste the rice to be sure or go to the original website and watch a video Lebovitz posted. Remove from the oven and let sit at least 15 minutes. It will thicken up as it cools. 

While the rice cooks, begin the compote:

1 1/2 pounds of plums
1/3 c white wine, or water, or apple juice
3 T sugar 
1/2  vanilla bean, or other flavoring, see above

Pit the plums and place them cut side down in a baking dish large enough to fit them in a single layer but also small enough to fit in the oven with the baking rice pudding. I used a skillet. Drizzle the wine over the top of the plums and sprinkle them with the sugar. Place the spice or flavoring in between some of the plums. Cover with foil and bake until the fruit has softened and is cooked through, about 15-20 minutes depending on the plums and your altitude. If you have left-over compote, as I did, use it over vanilla ice cream or freeze it for later use.

Cooking this a day ahead is ideal since both the pudding and the compote will thicken as they cool. However, it can be eaten after it cools somewhat.

This pudding would be good with other fruit compotes or fresh fruit in season. If you want, you can top with a dollop of jam. Or eat it just as it is. It's pretty tasty.

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