Arroz con Leche se quiere casar / Con una viudita de la capital / Que sepa tejer, que sepa bordar / Que ponga la aguja en el mismo lugar.
- Children rhyme
Arroz con leche is one of the most popular and simple-to-make of Dominican desserts. To the naked eye it could look like same old rice pudding, but once you taste it you can’t fail to notice the touch of spices that makes our arroz con leche different, in a good way.
My mother used to make a sugarless version which she served for dinner. I have to admit I hated it then, and I still do. If you wan to try it though, just skip the sugar. Proceed at your own risk.
There are many rice puddings, but the Dominican one, with its heavenly mix of spices, stands out from the crowd. Here's how to make arroz con leche.
- 3 cups of evaporated milk
- 6 cups of water
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 cup of long-grain rice
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 1/4 cup of raisins
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
- Soak the rice, cloves and cinnamon sticks in 2 cups of water and let sit for a couple of hours. This step is optional, and it's my own method for cooking the rice.
- Put the remaining 4 cups of water in an iron o cast aluminum pot.
- Add the rice (including the water in which it was soaking, cinnamon and cloves).
- Add the salt.
- Cook over medium temperature and stir regularly to avoid sticking.
- When the rice is tender (about 20 mins) add the milk and the sugar.
- When it breaks a boil again add the raisins.
- Cook over low heat until the mixture reaches a pudding-like consistency.
- Remove from the heat.
- Remove the cloves and cinnamon sticks.
- Add the butter and mix well.
- Cover and let it cool down to room temperature.
- Stir to incorporate the crust that forms during cooling.
- Serve in small bowls and sprinkle with the nutmeg.
Each person seems to have a favorite consistency for this dish. This is what I prefer (rice is very soft and the pudding very creamy). Later on when preparing this dish again you can adjust the liquids to obtain the texture you prefer.
In some homes rice pudding is a savory dish that is served as a simple dinner. If you are curious to try it, follow the instructions except that you will not add sugar, and instead of a teaspoon of salt as is listed in the recipe, you should add 1 tablespoon salt. Bear in mind that this is an acquired taste, one that I did never acquire myself.