Sassy Southern Cooking with a French Twist

Comforting Carolina Gold Rice and Rum Raisin Pudding

Charleston’s King of Rice Takes this Classic Comfort Food to a New Level

Growing up in rural New England in the 1970’s, rice (which usually came from a tired plastic bag or Minute brand white rice box)  didn’t thrill me, to say the least. Potatoes, especially my Nanna’s mashed version, were another matter. It wasn’t until much later when I became acquainted with aromatic rices and Arborio that I started to really appreciate it and experiment with it in both savory and sweet dishes.  But, when I moved to Charleston in 2000, I discovered rice nirvana in the form of Carolina Gold rice. Almost golden, you can taste it well before you put it in your mouth. Its buttery, hazelnut aroma/flavor entices your nose even as you sift it through the canvas bag in which it is most often stored. It is on every Charleston holiday table and supper tables several times a week and is the stuff of pirlou dreams.

Carolina Gold was the first commercial rice produced in the United States. By 1820, 100,000 acres of the rice was growing throughout the South, where it especially thrived growing in the tidewaters and marshes of South Carolina, Georgia, and North Carolina. It was a staple of the Lowcountry economy, which prior to The Civil War, was supported largely by the rice planting and harvesting skills of slaves imported from western Africa. The commerce thrived, and by the middle of the 18th century, was a dominant stepping stone of both the Charleston/Lowcountry economy as well as her inhabitant’s lusty appetite for the gloriously fragrant and delicious rice. The Civil War and merciful end to slavery as well as time all but killed production of the the cherished rice. Fortunately, growers such as Anson Mills (click for purchase or to learn more about the rice) resurrected its complicated production and harvesting.

The composition of the rice lends itself to fluffy, individual grains, a creamy risotto kind of mixture or sticky, depending on how it’s cooked.  Fall gets me thinking about all things comfort, which gets me thinking about Carolina Gold rice, which gets me thinking about Carolina Gold rice pudding, which is exactly what I put together this past weekend. Cooked in milk and stirred frequently, like a risotto, it naturally forms a pudding “sauce” of its own, no eggs required. While it’s still hot, stir in some sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, orange zest, and butter and let it set and cool for a for a few hours. Meanwhile, simmer raisins in fresh orange juice, cinnamon and rum.  That also sits to absorb and eventually they’re all mixed together and the pudding is blended with a final kiss of freshly whipped cream to give it a mousseline airiness. It is divine. Try some on  your holiday table this year. Rice pudding will never taste quite the same to any of your guests ever again. Don’t add the fresh whipped cream until within an hour or so of serving. All the rest can easily be prepared a day ahead.

Comforting Carolina Gold Rice & Rum Raisin Pudding

RECIPE

Comforting Carolina Gold Rice & Rum Raisin Pudding

(Makes 8 generous servings)

4 cups whole milk

1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

3/4 cup well rinsed and drained Carolina Gold rice

Zest of 1 orange

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon real vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Generous pinch salt

For the raisins:

1 cup raisins

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

1/2 cup light rum

1 tablespoon real vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Generous pinch salt

To finish the pudding:

1 cup very cold heavy whipping cream

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

Bring the milk and the 1/2 teaspoon salt to a low boil in a large, heavy-bottomed sauce pan. Add the rinsed rice and stir to combine. Reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered and stirring every few minutes, until very tender and most of the milk is absorbed, about 25 minutes. It will have a creamy, wet consistency similar to risotto. Meanwhile, turn your attention to the raisins. Combine the raisins, orange juice, rum, vanilla extract, cinnamon and salt in a small saucepan. Bring up to a boil and reduce to a lively simmer. Cook until the liquid has reduced to just about 1/4 cup, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and turn out into a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least three hours or overnight to macerate and mature the flavors. Return to finish the rice, when done cooking and still very warm, turn out into a large bowl with the orange zest, 3/4 cup sugar, butter, vanilla, cinnamon and generous pinch salt. Stir well to combine. Cover tightly and refrigerate three hours or overnight.

To finish the pudding (within an hour or so of serving), whip the heavy cream with the remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar until firm peaks have formed.  Stir one-third of the whipped cream into the cold pudding along with the reserved, cold raisins. Gently fold another third of the whipped cream into the rice pudding until well but gently blended. Serve cold in an attractive serving bowl or in individual pudding cups or ramekins with a generous dollop of the remaining whipped cream.

Bon appetit!

Holly

Upcoming Book Signing

Come see me this Saturday, October 20 for the Daniel Island Library Harvest Tour of Homes. 

I will be situated in the beautiful home at 341 Lesesne Street on Daniel Island from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. signing copies of my latest cookbook, The New Charleston Chef’s Table. Would love to see you there! It makes a lovely gift anytime of year, but especially during the holidays for the Charleston loving cook in your life.

New Charleston Chefs Table book cover

The New Charleston Chef’s Table (Globe Pequot Press, May 2018) by Holly Herrick

 

 

 

 

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3 Responses to Comforting Carolina Gold Rice and Rum Raisin Pudding

  • This pudding sounds absolutely wonderful!!!! Thank you for the recipe…I will definitely make it…and am looking forward already for the first sppon full….
    My best to you Holly…as always….
    Maria

    • Hi Maria – I hope you love it as much as I do. It’s a joy to make, as well. Most fragrant and so fun to watch everyone truly enjoy it. Bon appetit and thank you for your thoughts.

  • Can’t wait to try this recipe, Holly!! Love the plate, too!

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