A easy French dish constituted of pantry staples

By Emily Monaco,Options correspondent

Gramme Marine Gora's riz au lait at Gramme in Paris is topped with caramel-coated puffed rice (Credit: Gramme)Gramme

Marine Gora’s riz au lait at Gramme in Paris is topped with caramel-coated puffed rice (Credit score: Gramme)

The French model of rice pudding is firmly ensconced within the nostalgic, consolation meals class of “grandmother’s recipes” at the moment. And it’s develop into much more widespread throughout lockdown.

A world consolation meals

Whereas rice pudding exists in numerous varieties across the globe, its very first apparition is hazy: some attribute it to China, whereas others level to the Indian subcontinent. East Asian iterations embody easy candy congee or the aptly named “eight treasures” steamed pudding, flavoured with a wide range of fruits and candy bean paste. In India, in the meantime, kheer has been loved since historical occasions, related to Hindu god Shiva and with Ayurvedic therapies.

In the present day, practically each tradition all over the world has its personal model: baked or boiled, spiced or sweetened with fruit. Latin American rice pudding is usually made with condensed milk and spices; in Indonesia, black glutinous rice is the bottom for black sticky rice porridge. In Scandinavia, custom even calls for {that a} bowl be overlooked for mischief-making Christmas elves.

Nearly the second that lockdown was introduced in France, cooks began posting recipes for French consolation meals desserts on Instagram, hoping to unfold a little bit of sweetness amongst their fellow residents. However whereas crepes, yogurt cake and madeleines all definitely emerged, the recipe to function most continuously, from the feed of Michelin-starred Stéphanie le Quellec to these of famend pastry cooks Christophe Michalak and Yann Couvreurwas the common-or-garden milk rice (rice pudding) – a custard-like dessert made by slowly cooking rice with milk and sugar.

“It’s actually a childhood dessert in French tradition,” stated Marine Gora, co-founder of Gramme restaurant in Paris. “I’d say everybody in all probability has a childhood reminiscence related to riz au lait.”

In response to culinary historian Patrick Rambourg, riz au lait has lengthy featured on French tables – if not particularly as a consolation meals dessert, or perhaps a dessert in any respect. Whereas riz au lait recipes date way back to the 14th Century, the concoction, then usually made with broth (or almond milk on lean days when the Catholic Church forbade meat and dairy), was normally served to the bedridden or ailing due to its nourishing qualities and digestibility. However above all, riz au lait was usually a dish served to the aristocracy.

“Rice was nonetheless uncommon, at the moment,” stated Rambourg. “Very uncommon. And so, it was primarily eaten by the wealthy.”

GMVozd/Getty Images Riz au lait is made by slowly cooking rice with milk and sugar (Credit: GMVozd/Getty Images)GMVozd/Getty Photographs

Riz au lait is made by slowly cooking rice with milk and sugar (Credit score: GMVozd/Getty Photographs)

It was in all probability due to this affiliation with the higher crust that riz au lait quickly took on a sweeter profile, seasoned with saffron and sugar – each of which have been uncommon and costly, on the time.

By the sixteenth Century, nevertheless, rice started to develop into extra widespread in France – and in Europe generally – and riz au lait thus began to look on extra modest tables, notably amongst peasants within the French countryside, albeit just for vacation meals. When beet sugar grew to become widespread in France within the nineteenth Century, thereby making it a extra commonplace sweetener even on modest tables, riz au lait slowly however absolutely grew to become one thing that these from all walks of life may get pleasure from, from a easy dessert sweetened solely with sugar to extra elaborate Rice At The Empress with candied fruits and alcohol.

The concept of riz au lait being a childhood dessert, then, is one which appeared “very just lately,” Rambourg stated. As for the way precisely that got here to be, the waters are murky. Maybe it comes from the familiarity of its components; maybe from its digestibility, or the pureness of its white color, or simply from its ease.

serezniy/Getty Images In French culture, riz au lait is considered a childhood dessert (Credit: serezniy/Getty Images)serezniy/Getty Photographs

In French tradition, riz au lait is taken into account a childhood dessert (Credit score: serezniy/Getty Photographs)

However for Rambourg, there’s not one easy reply.

“I believe there’s one thing else behind it… one thing that isn’t all the time straightforward to elucidate,” he stated. “There are recipes that evoke emotions excess of flavour, maybe.”

Whereas riz au lait is firmly ensconced within the nostalgic, consolation meals class of “grandmother's recipes” (actually, “grandmother’s recipes”), in lots of French households at the moment, riz au lait is extra usually eaten out of a store-bought plastic pot than served out of a elaborate copper saucepan.

“Usually, it’s fairly poorly made,” stated Gora. “It’s not creamy, it’s form of overly compact.”

Some selfmade recipes up the ante by folding in whipped cream or egg yolks for richness, whereas others spice it up with vanilla, cinnamon or caramel. When skilled cooks put their hand to the dish, nevertheless, it’s usually so as to add modern textural distinction. Gora’s model requires caramel-coated puffed rice atop the creamy pudding.

Gramme Marine Gora's riz au lait at Gramme in Paris is topped with caramel-coated puffed rice (Credit: Gramme)Gramme

Marine Gora’s riz au lait at Gramme in Paris is topped with caramel-coated puffed rice (Credit score: Gramme)

“Everytime you’re constructing a dish, you all the time attempt to search for totally different textures, so a little bit of crunch,” stated Gora. “It got here to me naturally: the crispy, caramelised rice with a contact of caramel.”

Her recipe is unsurprisingly fairly widespread amongst her purchasers. And whereas it’s not on her common menu, patrons make frequent requests for its look.

“Each time anybody asks for it, I all the time make it the subsequent day!” she stated.

Chef Stéphane Jégo, too, opted to incorporate a crunchy caramel topping when he created a model at his Seventh-arrondissement Paris restaurant At L'Ami Jean 16 years in the past. To listen to Jégo inform it, he by no means supposed for the riz au lait to stay on the menu fairly so lengthy. He was simply in search of a nostalgic dessert he may serve that was straightforward to organize prematurely.

Chez L'Ami Jean At Chez L'Ami Jean, chef Stéphane Jégo's riz au lait has three components: the pudding itself, caramel and nougatine (Credit: Chez L'Ami Jean)At L'Ami Jean

At Chez L'Ami Jean, chef Stéphane Jégo's riz au lait has three parts: the pudding itself, caramel and nougatine (Credit score: Chez L'Ami Jean)

“I needed one thing that hearkened again to childhood,” he stated, “and to this concept of communal eating.”

His riz au lait has three parts: the pudding itself; a creamy caramel made with salted Brittany butter; and house-made nougatine with nuts enrobed in a crunchy caramel coating (see recipe beneath). Served by the beneficiant bowlful with a picket spoon, it shortly grew to become the star of Jégo’s menu.

“There’s this regressive facet to it, the place you get to the tip of the meal, and the riz au lait comes, and the very first thing everybody says is, ‘Oh, it’s manner an excessive amount of!’,” Jégo stated, laughing. “After which it’s similar to… oh, one spoon, two spoons, three spoons… and swiftly, the bowl is empty.”

Nikada/Getty Images Riz au lait is a comfort food dessert that appears on some Paris menus (Credit: Nikada/Getty Images)Nikada/Getty Photographs

Riz au lait is a consolation meals dessert that seems on some Paris menus (Credit score: Nikada/Getty Photographs)

Now, Jégo stated, he couldn’t take it off the menu, even when he needed to. “It’s loopy: I get stopped on the street, even overseas, for riz au lait.

“That, to me, is value all of the stars on the earth. As a result of it means you’ve touched individuals. You’ve received to the guts of what good meals can deliver to individuals, and to pleasure, and to reminiscence,” he stated.

Throughout confinement, Jégo has ready 200 litres of riz au lait for hungry Parisians to remove and revel in at house.

“I don’t actually suppose mine is any higher than anybody else’s. It’s the orchestration. The generosity. You’ve received this childlike zeal that simply… takes over,” he stated, as he stirred the caramel for his most up-to-date batch.

“Folks simply want that consolation.”

GMVozd/Getty Images Riz au lait (rice pudding) has been popular in France during lockdown (Credit: GMVozd/Getty Images)GMVozd/Getty Photographs

Riz au lait (rice pudding) has been widespread in France throughout lockdown (Credit score: GMVozd/Getty Photographs)

Stéphane Jégo's Rice Pudding Recipe

Rice Pudding

2.5l milk

1 vanilla bean, cut up

500g short-grain rice

500g sugar

1l cream (Jégo makes use of Normandy cream)

Warmth the milk and the vanilla bean. Add the rice and prepare dinner 40 minutes over low warmth. When the rice is tender sufficient to crush between your fingers, add the sugar, and prepare dinner quarter-hour extra. Take away the vanilla bean and chill the pudding within the fridge.

Whip the cream to medium peaks. Take away the rice from the fridge and use a spoon to interrupt it up and loosen it. Fold within the whipped cream.


250g pistachios

250g walnuts

250g almonds (toasted within the oven with 3 dabs of butter)

125g unsalted butter

190g turbocharged sugar

In a saucepan over medium warmth, make a lightweight brown caramel with the butter and the sugar. Add the walnuts and the pistachios, after which toss them within the caramel till effectively coated. Pour all the pieces onto a lined baking sheet containing the toasted almonds, after which put aside to chill.

Salted Caramel

600g heavy cream, plus 25ml for whipping

125g salted butter (Jégo makes use of Brittany butter)

600g sugar

37g flaky sea salt (Jégo makes use of flower of salt)

5½ gelatine sheets, 2g every

In a saucepan over medium warmth, make a darkish brown caramel with the sugar and the butter. Off the warmth, add the cream, sea salt flakes and gelatine. Cook dinner for half-hour over low warmth. Put aside within the fridge.

Whip the cream to stiff peaks. Gently fold the whipped cream into the caramel.

When the nougatine has cooled, break it up into bite-sized items. Serve the pudding, caramel and nougatine in serving bowls, so that every diner can assemble his or her personal portion.

(Credit score: Stéphane Jégo, tailored for BBC Journey)

Culinary Roots at House is a BBC Journey sequence that appears at trending recipes and traces their origins, providing the story behind the dish in addition to straightforward recommendations on the right way to make them.

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