Sometimes I wonder how many countries or cultures there are in the world that do not have some sort of rice pudding dish as part of their cuisine. In Argentina, bring up arroz con leche and someone is sure to declare that their abuela (grandmother) or mother has the best recipe. Some may stick to the basics of milk, rice, sugar, and salt. Others may add a splash of vanilla extract, a pinch of lemon zest or cinnamon, or even a dollop of dulce de leche. Arroz con leche is serious comfort food, perfect after a Sunday lunch or asado.
In terms of simplicity, arroz con leche is probably one of the easiest desserts to prepare unless you are talking about packaged dessert mixes. Quick and easy to cook. No one should have any trouble keeping the recipe in their head. The only inconvenience is time. For optimum results you have to soak the rice in the milk ahead of time and, after cooking, wait for the mixture to chill.
This is a recipe I built up after experimenting with so many tasty recipes out there. Although some may prefer a thicker arroz con leche, I like mine kind of soupy.
Arroz con Leche Recipe
4 cups whole or low-fat milk
1/2 cup short grain rice
4 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Mix together rice and milk in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least a few hours; for best results let it sit half a day or overnight. In a medium-sized sauce pan add rice/milk mixture and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring often to prevent sticking. Reduce heat to medium or enough heat so that the mixture gently boils, stir frequently. Cook for about 8-10 minutes. After 8 minutes, pull out a few grains of rice with a fork to test if they are fully cooked. When ready, the rice grains should be a bit chewy but with no crunch. Transfer to a heat-resistant bowl and allow to cool for one or two hours. If mixture is too thick, add a little milk and sugar until desired consistency is reached. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled. Sprinkle a little cinammon on top before serving. Serves 4.