I love the writings of chef Fergus Henderson. I’m not really one for his experimentations with offal – even he can’t convince me that pigs eyes and cows knees are a lovely thing to eat, sorry – but my goodness can this fellow cook a sterling pud and write about it wittily. I chanced across his excellent book ‘Beyond Nose to Tail: A Kind of British Cooking Part II’ at a second hand market, and found the section on puddings captivating. Its prose made me chuckle, and I was tickled that Fergus described his puddings in mock lofty tones as ‘steadying’ and ‘gastronomically as exciting as Prince Albert’. Ha ha! This man doesn’t do low fat – we’re talking serious usage of butter and cream, so look away now if you can’t handle it…
Anyway, this is his rice pudding. The book’s version is a little more complex as he completes his with an additional custard and raisins soaked in booze, but if you need just the rice pudding part to immediately improve a glum, wintry afternoon, this will be just the thing you need. It’s rich, warm, vanilla tones will wrap you in a big generous hug. Just the thing for a Sunday afternoon when the rain is pissing down and you have no need to go outside. Bliss.
Please don’t be tempted to try low fat replacements for any of the ingredients – your rice pudding will be much worse off for it.
Rice pudding, adapted from the recipe by Fergus Henderson and Justin Piers Gellatly
You will need:
125g unsalted butter (I use salted, it works fine)
150g caster sugar
200g pudding rice
1.5 litres full-fat milk
300ml double cream
1 vanilla pod
a pinch of salt (don’t bother with this if you use salted butter)
Place the butter and sugar in a large, heavy-based casserole and melt over a medium heat, stirring occasionally. Bring to the boil and let it bubble, without stirring, until it turns into a golden brown caramel. Add the rice and stir to combine it with the caramel, then add the milk and the cream. Once the liquid hits the caramel, the caramel will become hard and stringy. Don’t worry; as the liquid heats up, the caramel will melt again into it and become smooth again. Slit the vanilla pod open lengthways, scrape out the seeds and add the seeds and pod to the rice, together with the pinch of salt (if using). Bring to the boil and place in an oven preheated to 160C/Gas Mark 3. Bake for 1.5 – 2 hours, until golden brown on top and thick and creamy.
Dreamy! If you need proof of Fergus’s other excellent puddings, try out this recipe for his mighty fruit crumble cake (where you can use rhubarb, damsons, apples etc).