Inspired by the not-too-sweet rice puddings of India, Hugh Acheson keeps the sugar to a minimum in this version made with rice grits (broken grains of rice). In a nod to the South's favorite drink, he tops the pudding with sweetened milk that's been flavored with tea and spices. The most unexpected ingredient: butternut squash. "I think it can work really well in dessert," he says.
More Rice Pudding Recipes
1 quart whole milk, plus more for thinning
3 1/2 cups water
1 cup rice grits (see Note) or long-grain rice coarsely ground in a blender
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup strong-brewed black tea
One 3-inch cinnamon stick, broken
4 cardamom pods, crushed
1/2 cup pecans
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup peeled and 1/2-inch-diced butternut squash
1 Granny Smith apple—peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch dice
How to Make It
In a medium saucepan, combine 3 cups of the whole milk with the water and bring to a boil. Stir in the rice grits and a pinch of salt and simmer over low heat, stirring often, until the rice is tender and pudding-like, about 1 1/2 hours. Stir in 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar. Cover the saucepan and remove from the heat.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, combine the black tea, cinnamon stick pieces, crushed cardamom and the remaining 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and bring to a boil. Cook over moderate heat until the mixture is syrupy, about 10 minutes. Add the remaining 1 cup of milk and simmer 5 minutes longer. Strain the sweet milk tea.
Put the pecans in a pie plate and bake for about 8 minutes, until toasted. Let the nuts cool, then coarsely chop them.
In a large nonstick skillet, melt the butter. Add the diced squash and cook over moderate heat until browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Stir in the diced apple and cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash and apple are just tender, about 3 minutes longer.
Reheat the rice pudding until it is very warm. If it is too thick, thin it with whole milk, about 1/4 cup at a time. Spoon the rice pudding into small bowls and pour the sweet milk tea on top. Spoon the squash, apples and pecans onto the pudding and serve.