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Savory Rice Pudding Adventures

2 months ago
last modified: 2 months ago

Rice isn't something I go for. I don't mind it, but I'd prefer another grain, usually. Many cuisines expect their foods to be served with or on rice. So I eat some. Even occasionally make some. I actually like the sweet rice from one Japanese restaurant, and Lebanese pilaf with the plump fat grains and olive oil toasted vermicelli, but it's still rice, and I still don't want to deal with the leftovers. I've used leftover rice in casseroles but everybody would rather have pasta. It's okay in soup, but barley is a lot better. Etc.

Recently, I made the recipe for chicken with orzo that Chloebud posted with actual leftover Chinese restaurant rice instead of the pasta. I didn't think about which stock it was when I took a right-sized container out of the freezer, but it was rich and reduced, so the final part, apart from the actual chicken and lemon slices, eaten cold, was a wonderfully tasty savory rice pudding given the gellid texture of the sauce. It was good enough that I've thought of making it without even bothering with the chicken.

Now, some friends brought Lebanese with them, but on a day when I felt carbed out and didn't even eat any of the (particularly delicious) rice. There were three cups left, along with some Lebanese mixed grill and salad. The last went the way of all leftover salad, but the meat, diced up and mixed into some of the rice made a good little pie plate casserole, but more rice than anything (unlike a traditional casserole with a layer of rice on the bottom), with sliced figs on the bottom, diced red onion and sweet red peppers (birdseye shaped). I didn't have anything for the top, so mixed some more rice with olive oil to make something like a breadcrumb topping (it did crisp up, but I should have flavored it more). The whole was bound with custard, making it a rice pudding in the way that bread pudding made with custard is.

There was still about 1.5 cups of really good rice left as well as about a cup of meh hummus. It had the classic hummus salad flavor--there's really only one recipe--but the flavor was very subtle and the texture was almost fluffy and super soft and creamy--i.e., way over blenderized. In thinking what to do with it, I was thinking about rice pudding. You know how you can use hummus (=chickpea) goo (i.e., aquafaba) in place of eggwhites in baking? I was thinking the opposite. Maybe I could use the creaminess of this not so great hummus salad instead of cream in custard! I whipped it up with a couple of duck eggs (less watery than hens' and needed using), with some S&P on general principles, and three cloves of pressed garlic to kind of restore the flavor.

I probably would have used some olive oil, again to enhance the hummus salad flavor, if it were chicken eggs. The big yolks of the duck eggs, along with the chickpeas themselves, was plenty enough fat. I also added some arugula for interest, but not enough to interfere with the pudding texture. It was really good! It worked! The custardy texture puddinged it. :) The rice was very moist. Lebanese rice is washed and soaked before boiling, not al dente, which is why I went for the less watery eggs. With a leftover basmati, I would have made the opposite choice, and maybe added a little water or pre-steamed the rice.

I'm not about to start making a lot of rice, but at least now I know things to do with the leftovers that will actually get eaten!

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