Arroz con leche (Spanish rice pudding)


2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups medium grain or pearl rice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 stick unsalted butter or margarine
peel of 1/2 lemon
3 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1-2 tsp ground cinnamon

Pour approximately 3 cups of water in a large pot and bring to a boil. When it begins to boil, add the rice. Reduce heat a bit and simmer for about 10 minutes. Turn off burner and allow rice to sit in pot of water.

Pour milk into another large pot and add sugar. Turn burner on low to medium heat. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Bring milk to a boil over medium heat, being careful that it does not boil over. While you are waiting for the milk to boil, drain the water from the rice.

Once the milk boils, add drained rice, butter, cinnamon stick,  whole cloves and lemon peel. Allow to gently boil for about 15-20 minutes, until rice is soft. Remove cinnamon stick and lemon peel. Remove from heat and pour rice pudding into a serving dish. Sprinkle the top with ground cinnamon. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving because the mixture retains the heat.

Arroz con leche can be served warm or cold. If you want to serve it cold, allow the rice mixture to cool down in the serving dish for 20 minutes, then refrigerate at least 1 hour.

In the Northern Spain, this dish is served with a crust of carmelized sugar on top. You can accomplish the same thing by sprinkling the top with sugar and placing the dish under the broiler for a few minutes until sugar is carmelized.