Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My Cooking Attempts: Arroz con leche

Believe it or not I didn't grow up eating arroz con leche. Despite my family's Mexican roots it wasn't a sweet treat in our home. By that I don't mean I rarely had it, I mean I never even tasted it until reaching adulthood. I wasn't able to luxuriate in the cinnamony aroma of sweet arroz con leche until I got married and my mother-in-law made it for my husband.
When I asked my mother-in-law for the recipe I experienced an Everybody Loves Raymond moment. You know the episode, when Marie gives Deborah the wrong ingredients so when Deb attempts the meatball recipe her meatballs don't taste as good as Marie's! When I attempted the recipe my mother-in-law gave me I ended up and a gooey, horrible mess! I wonder if that was a coincidence????
As I am no "giver-uper" I went about searching and adapting recipes until I found and prefected a delicious and oh so easy arroz con leche recipe. Pay close attention, I promise not to lead you astray!

2 cups long grain rice
2 whole cinnamon sticks
4 + 1/4 cups water
1 can condensed milk, 14 ounces
1 can coconut milk, 13.5 ounces
    Note: Make sure it's the canned, cooking coconut milk not the carton drinking coconut milk)
1 can evaporated milk, 12 ounces
1 cup whole milk + more if you like your arroz con leche a little looser
    Note: I tend use whatever I have on hand, usually almond milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
Ground cinnamon, for dusting

Rinse the rice, to remove any dust and foreign debris. Set aside. Add water to a pot, add cinnamon sticks, and bring to a boil.

When the water comes to a boil, add the rice. Lower to medium low heat, cover, and cook until most, but not all, the water has evaporated. Turn off the heat. DO NOT REMOVE THE LID. The steam will complete the cooking process.

When all the water has evaporated remove the cinnamon sticks (otherwise you will end up with pieces of cinnamon bark whenever you take a bite). Add all four milks (condensed, evaporated, coconut, and, in this case, almond milk).

Turn the heat back on, low. Mix regularly or it will stick to the bottom of the pot. Add vanilla and raisins, if using. Allow flavors to meld. Cook for about 15 minutes. Serve in a bowl. Dust with ground cinnamon and enjoy.

Arroz con leche can be enjoyed hot or cold. I like it both ways, but David loves it hot. Oh and I never add raisins to my arroz con leche, that's a strict David rule! However, feel free to add them, as it is a traditional addition to arroz con leche.

Note: If you microwave any leftovers make sure to add a dash of milk so that it doesn't dry out. If you are not a big coconut fan and you're thinking of skipping this recipe, give it a try. The coconut flavor is so mild you don't even notice it. However, you can substitute the coconut milk with whole milk if you really can't stand the idea of tasting coconut in your arroz con leche.

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