Arroz con Leche Receta (Spanish Rice Pudding Recipe)

Yes folks, you’ve read the title correctly, today it’s getting “domestic” around here at TRIS. Although I wouldn’t call myself a great cook, I love experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen (a passion I inherited from my mother – anyone remember when she substituted the milk in Kraft Mac and Cheese with sour cream, water, and sugar??) 🙂

Since I’m living in Spain, I figured now was the appropriate time to “try my hand” at preparing this traditional Spanish dish: arroz con leche (literally “rice with milk” but more commonly called “rice pudding” in the US)

Why Arroz con Leche?

For a number of reasons really….

  1.  I had all the ingredients on hand. (always a plus!) 🙂
  2.  No baking is required. (last time I tried to use the oven here I burnt the brownies and blew a fuse…. whoopsies.
  3.  It’s a dessert. (and it’s typical of Asturias!)
  4.  I’ve ordered it many times in restaurants and I’m never let down.
  5.  In many of the recipe books I consulted its preparation is considered “easy”. (Score!)

Interesting Facts about the Dessert

According to the recipe books Diego’s mom has around the house, arroz con leche was probably first prepared in Spain during this countries’ “Muslim Era” (8th-15th centuries) –  the time in history when an Islamic-Arabic people occupied Spain and Portugal.  Historians believe this to be true because the main ingredients of this dish – rice, milk, and the various spices are common in Arabic cuisine.

When the Spanish conquered the “New World” – they brought with them this recipe to the native people. Because of this, variations of arroz con leche are also a common in Mexican, Cuban, and Central and South American cooking.

Warning

I wish I could say that I followed this recipe exactly from a Asturian cook book – but alsa, as I typically do, I modified the recipe I was following based on the ingredients I had and the time I wanted to spend in the kitchen (I think the first recipe book I consulted told me I should “continuously stir the pudding on the stove for at least an hour…) I love dessert, but not that much! 😉 So if you’re looking for a 100 percent authentic recipe perhaps you should consult another source…. 🙂

Anyhow, let’s get cooking!

Ingredients

  1. 2 cups water
  2. 2 cups milk (I used skim milk but would recommend using whole or at least 2 percent)
  3. 1 cup rice uncooked
  4. 6 TBS sweetener of choice (I used a sugar/maple syrup combo)
  5. 1 TBS butter (optional)
  6. 2 TSP ground cinnamon
  7. Dash of ground nutmeg
  8. Dash of salt
  9. Rind of half a lemon

Method

Prep time: one hour

  • Combine water, rice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon rind in a large bowl.
  • Stir until cinnamon and nutmeg aren’t clumpy in the water.
  • Set aside for one hour.
Cooking time: 30-40 minutes
  • After waiting at least an hour, dump the “spiced up” water and rice mixture into a medium sized pot (with lid) on the stove.
  • Set your stove’s heat setting to “medium high” and cover pot with lid.
  • Heat mixture until it beings to boil.
While you’re waiting for the water to being to boil, don’t be like me and take a bathroom break… because this is what happens….

It's not a true cooking experience without a few spills, right? 🙂

The water boils over and then you (Lucy) have a lot of “explaining to do to Ricki!” 🙂

Moving on….

  • Once the water beings to boil reduce heat to “medium”.
  •  Let mixture simmer for a few minutes.
  • When most of the water has evaporated/has been absorbed by the rice, remove the lemon rind with a fork.
Now comes the “tedious” part…
  • Reduce stove heat to “low”.
  •  Add half a cup of milk to the rice mixture.
  • After adding the milk, stir mixture until milk starts to absorb into the rice, making sure the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom or sides of the pot.
  • During the next 20 minutes, add the rest of the milk, half a cup at a time, while continuing to stir the rice.

The stove can't be too hot when you add the milk or else you'll burn the pudding!

Understandably, 20 minutes is a long time to wait in the kitchen for something to cook 😉 Feel free to distract yourself with the following activities…. (Just don’t forget to keep stirring the rice!)

“Swiffering” the kitchen floor is always a good way to pass the time…. or it’s also acceptable to…..
No comment....
….take awesome photos of yourself holding kitchen utensils in your mouth because both hands are needed to steady the Ipad camera.  😉
Finally!
  • After all the milk has been added, do a “taste test” to see if the rice is soft enough for your liking.
  • If the rice is too tough, cook a little longer.
  • Once you are satisfied with the texture of the rice, turn off the heat of stove top.
  • Add the 6 TBS of sweetener to the pudding (I used 2 TSP of maple syrup and 4 TBS of sugar).
  • Mix the pudding until sweetener is fully blended.
  • If you desire, now is the time to add the 1 TBS of butter.
  • Mix the pudding until butter is fully blended and remove pot from stove top.

Not a "typical Spanish" sweetener, but still delicious!

Yes, Paula Dean's influence followed me to Spain!

  • Pudding should now have a soupy “oatmeal” like texture and constancy.
  • Do one final “taste test” to make sure you have added enough sweetener.
  • Transfer pudding to a large bowl and let it cool to room temperature.
  • Once cooled, cover bowl and refrigerate.
  • Serve chilled – topped with a little extra cinnamon, nutmeg, and (if you’re really fancy) some grated lemon zest!
  • Makes approx. 4 servings.

Can you spy my large jar of peanut butter I smuggled here from the US???

I forgot to take a photo of the final result, so this stolen one will have to do 😩

Final Thoughts
  • Diego (my authentic Spanish “taste tester”) gave my version of arroz con leche a 7/10, not too shabby!
  • Because I used skim milk, the result was much less “rich” than what I was use to tasting in a restaurant (that’s why I added butter to my recipe) – therefore I recommend that you use whole milk (or at least 2 percent)… even though it’s less healthy!
  • The pudding tastes even better then next day after being refrigerated overnight!!
  • Feel free to play around with the type of sweetener/milk/spices you use – I read recipes that called for everything from coconut milk instead of cow’s milk (the Brazilian version), limes instead of lemons (the Mexican version), and substituting nutmeg for laurel leaves (A Spanish variation).
That’s why I loved making arroz con leche – it’s so versatile and (believe me when I say this) its preparation is practically “fool proof” 😉

Remember folks, if this girl can make it..... (trust me) so can you!! 🙂

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