Riz au lait (ree oh lay) is French for "rice with milk," and is the classy European version of rice pudding. I like to eat it warm, fresh off the stove, but it can also be enjoyed at room temperature or cold out of the fridge!
This is truly French homestyle cooking. You might not find this on the dessert menu at a fancy Parisian restaurant, but I guarantee that any French person you meet will tell you they ate it as a kid.
Riz au lait is incredibly easy to make, so it's the perfect quick and comforting late-night dessert to whip up when you just need a little something sweet before bed. Its creamy consistency and subtle vanilla flavor always bring me right back to childhood, when my mom would make me warm milk when I couldn't fall asleep. There's just something about this wholesome dessert that makes it one of my perennial favorites!
Riz au Lait à la Vanille Recipe
1 part short- or medium-grain rice
6 parts whole milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (or one vanilla bean)
A small pat of butter
A pinch of salt
Sugar to taste (for me, 4-5 spoonfuls does the trick)
1.) Melt the pat of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the rice, dry. Stirring constantly, let cook for 3-4 minutes.
2.) If using vanilla bean, cut the bean in half lengthwise and use knife blade to scrape out the contents. Add milk, sugar, vanilla, and pinch of salt. Reduce heat to low.
3.) It's important that the milk heat very gradually. Stir often to make sure no rice sticks to the bottom of the pan. Once the milk starts to bubble, you'll need to stir more or less constantly. If, during the cooking process, your riz au lait becomes too thick, just add more milk.
4.) After about 35 mins, check the consistency. The milk should be thick and creamy, and the rice should be well-cooked. Add more sugar if need be.
And voilà! It’s ready. You can serve warm or chilled. Sometimes I add cold milk or sprinkle a little extra sugar on top right before serving. You can also top with a dash of cinnamon, a drizzle of chocolate syrup, cookie crumbs, fruit, salted caramel sauce... pretty much anything that strikes your fancy! Because it's such a simple recipe, it's very adaptable. If you try it out, I'd love to hear about it! :) Bon appétit, Vinglers!