I moved from the northeast in the 80’s and have a short list of must-have foods for when I go back to visit family. Besides pizza and cheese danish, rice pudding was always at the top of the list. Rice Pudding is to Northerners what Banana Pudding is to Southerners. You cannot find a good New Jersey Diner or New York Deli that does not serve this decadent dessert.
Ever since I perfected my own version of this delicious dish, I no longer have to wait for a family visit to enjoy New Jersey Rice Pudding.
§ 1 cup white long grain rice
§ 2 cups water
§ 1 teaspoon kosher salt
§ 4 cups half-and-half
§ 1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)
§ 1 cup sugar
§ 2 room temperature egg, beaten
§ 1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
§ 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
§ Whipped cream for serving
In a saucepan, add rice, water and salt. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer, cover and cook for approximately 10 minutes until most of the water is absorbed and the rice is soft. If using a vanilla bean, cut the bean in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Add the half-and-half, sugar, vanilla bean seeds and vanilla bean. Bring to boil and reduce to a low simmer and cook uncovered for about 20 minutes stirring often until the pudding is thickened.
To temper the egg before combining with the hot rice, in a separate bowl, beat the egg. Add about 1/4 cup of the hot, creamy rice mixture to the egg and mix quickly. Pour tempered egg mixture back into the rice, mix well and cook for one more minute, just long enough to cook the egg. Remove from heat. Remove and discard the vanilla bean. If you chose to use vanilla extract, add the vanilla after removing from heat and stir well. Since vanilla extract is primarily alcohol, if you continue to cook after adding the vanilla, it will evaporate. If the rice pudding is too thick, add heavy cream. This will thin the pudding and add richness.
Pour into a casserole serving dish and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the rice pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Place in refrigerator. After pudding is completely cooled, remove plastic wrap and sprinkle with cinnamon. Serve in dessert dishes and top with whipped cream.
For a printer friendly copy of this recipe, go to Jersey Diner RicePudding. Enjoy!