Rhubarb Rice Pudding
3/4 cup white basmati rice
1 vanilla bean
3 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin, less than 1 envelope
1 tablespoon cold water
1 1/2 pounds rhubarb
1 1/2 cups water
2 1/4 cups sugar
In a bowl soak rice in cold water to cover 30 minutes. In a sieve drain rice and rinse under cold water.
With a knife halve vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape seeds into a 3 quart heavy saucepan. Add pod, rice, milk, cream, sugar, butter, nutmeg and a pinch salt. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally and simmer, partially covered, over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, 25 minutes, or until rice is tender and mixture is creamy but still loose. Remove pan from heat and discard pod.
In a small cup sprinkle gelatin over 1 tablespoon cold water and let soften 1 minute. Stir gelatin mixture into hot rice mixture until gelatin is dissolved.
Lightly oil a 9 inch spring form pan and line with plastic wrap. Pour pudding into pan and cool on a rack. Chill pudding, covered, until firm, at least 3 hours and up to 1 day.
Have ready a tray lined with wax paper. Trim rhubarb and cut stalks crosswise into 1 inch pieces. In a 12 inch heavy skillet bring water and sugar to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved and boil 1 minute.
Add rhubarb and poach at a bare simmer, without stirring, until just tender but not falling apart, about 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon transfer rhubarb pieces as cooked to tray.
Pour syrup through a sieve into a bowl and return to skillet. Boil syrup until it reaches soft ball stage, about 10 minutes; syrup will be reduced to about 1 cup. Keep warm, covered.
Remove side from spring form pan and invert a serving plate over rice pudding. Invert pudding onto plate and remove bottom of pan and plastic wrap.
Arrange rhubarb decoratively on top of pudding and brush with warm syrup. Chill rhubarb rice pudding, uncovered, until cold, at least 1 hour and up to 3.
Serve rhubarb rice pudding chilled.
Serves 6 to 8.
Note: Cooking rhubarb to the right consistency is trickier than you might think, it changes from barely tender to falling apart in a matter of seconds. Watch it carefully while it’s poaching. In this recipe you’ll need to boil the rhubarb syrup to the soft ball stage. To determine this, just drop a small amount of syrup into a cup of cold water. If you can form it into a sticky lump that flattens when pressed, it has reached the right consistency. This technique is especially useful with small amounts of syrup, from which it can be difficult to obtain an accurate temperature reading with a thermometer.
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