Ferran Adrià , considered by many to be the demi-god of molecular gastronomy, is intensely Catalonian and his dishes, no matter how unworldly they may appear, exhibit influences, ingredients and techniques that have been part of Catalan cuisine for more than a thousand years. Brazil's most inventive present-day chefs, at the same time that they are looking at food in entirely new ways and through 21st century lenses, still want their cuisine to be Brazilian - not European, not Asian, not even South American. Brazilian.
It's interesting and instructive, therefore, to "compare and contrast" (as our 7th grade English teacher loved to ask us to do) traditional Brazilian recipes with their contemporary re-imaginings. To see what's remained and what's been left behind. And to see what's been added, and how it's used.
To this end, we're going to publish today a very simple, very traditional and utterly lovely Brazilian rice pudding (arroz doce) recipe. Back in October of 2011, we posted a regional rice pudding recipe from the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul (click here to go to that page) and in that post we discussed Brazilian rice pudding and its relationship to egg and milk based sweets from the Portuguese culinary repertory. That recipe, however, varied from the most basic recipe with the addition of lime peels and the absence of egg. The recipe below, taken from the website of Deli Art Cake Creations, a São Paulo sweet shop and caterer, is simplicity itself - nothing but rice, milk, sugar and egg yolks, spiced with a cinnamon stick.
Tomorrow, we'll head to the other end of the Brazilian culinary spectrum with a recipe for rice pudding that could only come from the 21st century.
RECIPE - Traditional Rice Pudding (Arroz Doce Tradicional)
1 cup long-grain white rice
4 cups whole milk
1 cup granulated white sugar
4 egg yolks - free-range if possible - lightly beaten
2 inch stick of cinnamon
The day before cooking, combine the rice with 2 cups of the milk in a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Before beginning to cook, combine the remaining 2 cups of rice and the beaten egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Reserve.
Put the rice and the milk in which it soaked into a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring frequently. When the milk reaches the boiling point, reduce the heat and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the rice absorbs most of the liquid. When the rice is almost dry add the additional milk/egg yolk mixture, mix thoroughly, then add the sugar and the stick of cinnamon. Bring to the boil again, then reduce heat and cook, stirring constantly until the milk has thickened and the rice is just beginning to dry out - the rice should have the consistency of risotto. Remove the cinnamon stick and discard.
Remove from the heat and let cool. You can serve it once it reaches room temperature, or refrigerate at that point and serve cold.