Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Arroz con Leche de Nora

On Sunday we spent the afternoon learning how to make Nora's arroz con leche (rice pudding). She made a point of specifying that this was "Spanish style" arroz con leche, which works for us because the Spanish influence is, of course, huge in Cuba's culinary tradition. So this recipe does not include evaporated milk or condensed milk which we often see in "Cuban" arroz con leche.  In my case, my grandmother who was Spanish, made it like this - a blast from the past for me!

While the arroz con leche cooked we snacked on cheese, pepperoni, "bocaditos" (Cuban-style ham salad sandwiches), a yummy salad that Nora prepared, and of course wine! A couple of us even had a shot of Dominican Barceló rum!

Then as if Nora wasn't doing enough with the hosting and teaching - she had a little "raffle" for those of us there, where the winner (me!) got a beautiful scarf knit by Nora herself! She does it all! And as always, there were lots of stories and reminiscing - it was a great time.

Now let's get to it!


1/2 cup short grain rice (also known as pearl rice)
6 cups whole milk
3 cups water, more if needed
1 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
Lime peel without pith (the white part)
1/4 tsp salt
Ground cinnamon to taste

  • Peel the lime in as long a piece as possible, taking care to avoid the pith.
  • Add water, rice, sugar, cinnamon stick and the lime peel in a non-stick pot. Set it on high and bring to boil.
  • Once it comes to a boil, stir occasionally. The rice will begin puffing up.
  • Once the water is evaporated check the rice's texture, if it isn't soft enough continue adding water in 1/2 cup increments and letting it evaporate until the desired tenderness is reached.
  • Once the correct consistency is achieved, add the milk. Once the milk warms through, add the salt.
  • Still on high, bring the milk to a boil. Once it starts boiling, lower the temperature to Medium. Stir occasionally as it thickens.
  • Once the mixture reaches the desired consistency, remove the cinnamon stick and lime peel.
  • Pour the rice pudding into a large bowl or into individual serving dishes. Cover the pudding with plastic wrap allowing the plastic to lay on the surface of the pudding, this will avoid a film from forming on the top.
  • Chill.
  • Add ground cinnamon upon serving.

This traditional dessert tastes good both chilled and room temperature - and yes, even warm!  It's a great finishing touch to a traditional Cuban meal or as a mid-afternoon snack followed by a cafecito.

¡Buen provecho!