Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Recipe: Ris a la Mande

It's Christmas Morning where I live and I suppose I really shouldn't be blogging today. However, since the kids are entertaining themselves playing with their Christmas Presents, I thought I'd find a few moments to hand you all the recipe for a dessert, that has been a Danish Christmas tradition for I don't know how long: "Ris a la Mande" (prenounced "Rees a la mang")

The name suggests a French Connection, but that's completely off the main road. As it is often the case with Danish, we tend to use foreign terms for things that are meant to be of high quality. Typical Danish inferiority complex...

Anyway, this dessert is quite easy to make and in our house it's my job to make it. One of the advantages is that it's a two-step dessert that gives you an evening meal and from some of it you make the dessert. Ready? Here we go:

What you need:
500g Pudding Rice (Rice isn't just rice and if you use any other kind, you won't get anything that even resembles a dessert - or the evening meal, for that matter)
3,5 liters of high fat milk (app. 3,5% fat)
1/4 liter of cream (app. 38% fat - you need whipping cream at the least)
150g of almonds (hence "a la mande," which basically means "with almonds" - check your french vocabulary)
7,5 dl of water (a dl is 1/10 of a liter)
1/4 liter Cherry Sauce

What is nice to have, when making this dessert:
A towel
A bed (yes, that´s right: a bed. Just your ordinary bed, that you usually sleep in)
A sleeping blanket (the thicker, the better - multiple blankets is just as good)

What you do:
1: Put the water in a large cooking pot (I use a 5 liter pot, but it really can't be too big, unless you go into industrial mode)

2: When the water is boiling, put in the rice little by little while stirring (the stirring is very important, because if you don't stir, it'll burn at the bottom of the pot)

3: Let the rice boil for about 2 minutes while stirring (still very important - don't you ever let go of that cooking spoon)

4: Pour in the milk little by little, so that the pot will keep almost boiling (if it stops boiling, it really isn't a problem, it just means it'll take a little longer, before the temperature rises to the boiling point again and cooking this meal takes a bit longer)

Note: You need to be very careful with boiling milk, because it will very quickly boil over the top of the pot, if you're not careful - if this happens, there is only one way to stop the catastrophy: take the pot off of the stove to let the temperature fall.

5: When all the milk is in the pot and it is boiling, you have two options:

5a: Finish cooking on the stove
You can either leave it on the stove simmering with a lid on for about 30-45 minutes while constantly making sure that it won't boil over the top or stop simmering (not the option I would recommend, unless you're in such a hurry, that there is no other way to get it done)

5b: Finish cooking in bed
The better option might seem a bit strange, but I assure you that not only does it give the best end result. It also has these rather nice benefits:

1. It saves you a lot of grief
2. It saves you a lot of time
3. It saves you a lot of energy and thus it saves you money

Option 5b is this:
a. Put a lid on the pot

b. Wrap a towel around it (this is mostly to make cleaning an easier task - you will find out why)

c. Put the towel wrapped pot in your bed (yes, that's right: put it to bed)

d. Tug it in like you would a child and make sure the blanket(s) are covering the pot and towel completely

e. Leave the pot in bed for about 4-5 hours, but stir every hour or so

Note: What happens when you tug in the pot, is that the heat is kept in by the blanket(s) but the temperature never rises - this means that the meal will slowly cook and you don't have to worry about burning it. Stirring every hour ensures that every little grain of rice is cooked properly.

f. The Rice Pudding is done when it has the consistence of an old fashioned oat meal.

Note: If you just want to serve the Rice Pudding, all you have to do now is add a bit of salt (careful, it really doesn't need all that much and you can easily destroy it if you add too much - and if you do, it's impossible to save it!)

If you want the dessert for the next day, put aside some of the Rice Pudding and put it in the fridge and then follow these instructions the following day:

1. Put the kettle on
2. Put the almonds in a container that can take boiling temperature
3. Pour the boiling water in with the almonds
4. With a spoon, take a few almonds and put them on a plate
5. Take the almonds one by one and press with your thumb, index finger and middle finger with one hand. This will pop the almond out of it's skin (be sure to catch them with your other hand)
6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 till all the almonds are skinned
7. With a large and sharp knife, chop the almonds to small pieces about 3-6 mm
8. Whip the cream
9. Put the almonds into the Rice Pudding and stir
10. Put in the whipped cream little by little and carefully stir (if you're not careful enough, you'll kind of "unwhip" the cream, which is not what you want)
11. Finally, you heat up the cherry sauce and serve

That's it!

This is what it could look like:

If you try this out I would be thrilled to hear about your experience with it... So, please feel free to leave a comment...

Note: There is a great game connected to this dessert - read about it here