Creamy Rice Pudding with Fig Jam and Meringue

I did not have rice pudding growing up, so it’s something I’ve come to later in life.  But the thing is, I’ve never been able to totally get into it.  I want to love it; I really do.  I’ve made it this way and that way and added this and taken out that, and still, I haven’t been won over.  And then I gave up.  Maybe there are just some people who aren’t meant to love rice pudding.  And maybe I’m one of them.

And then I watched Jamie Oliver make this, and I thought.  You know, if Jamie says this is good, perhaps I need to give it one more try.  He made a strawberry jam to go on it and crumbled meringue all over it, and I thought… “who am I to argue with that?!”

Besides, I had these beautiful figs that I wanted to use...

and what better than to make a fig jam to accompany a rice pudding that’s been showered with crunchy meringue cookies.

 

(I found these at Whole Foods and was especially intruigued to imagine this place referred to on the pkg. where egg whites are allowed to roam free and are not confined to cages)

Long story short, it’s as close as I’ve ever come to liking rice pudding.  I so wanted to tell you that I loved this.  The husband was nuts for it, which confirmed my suspicions regarding my ability to enjoy rice pudding.  He assured me that it was amazingly good.

But I did love the fig jam...

And Jamie suggested making vanilla sugar, which I did, and I really loved that.  I thought the pudding needed a little more of that vanilla sugar in it, but then I sprinkled some on top and that was a great addition.

I’m not really sure what to say here, except that if you love rice pudding, I think you will really like this.  If you’re on the fence, you might want to try it and see which side you fall on.  Word is, it’s pretty good.

Rice Pudding with Fig Jam and Meringue

For a printable recipe, click here

Adapted from a recipe by Jamie Oliver
6 to 8 servings

For the jam:
2 baskets of figs (14-15 oz each)
1/4 cup sugar
½ cup water
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp balsamic vinegar

For the rice pudding:
5 cups organic whole milk
7 ounces medium-grain rice (I used Arborio)
2 tablespoons vanilla sugar (or 2 tablespoons of sugar and 2 teaspoons of vanilla)

2 ounces store-bought meringues, crumbled

Vanilla Sugar
2 cups of sugar
2 or 3 vanilla beans

For the vanilla sugar:  Chop the vanilla beans into several pieces and place them in a food processor with the sugar.  Process until the vanilla beans are ground fine and blended with the sugar.

Place the milk, rice and vanilla sugar in a deep saucepan. Bring to a medium simmer and put on the lid. Cook for half an hour, stirring occasionally, until the rice pudding is thick, creamy, oozy and moist. If it ends up being a bit too thick, you can thin it down by adding a little more milk.

While the pudding cooks, slice or chop the figs.  In a medium saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a simmer to dissolve the sugar.  Add the figs and the salt and stir.  Let the figs cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes, and then remove from the heat and puree with a stick blender (or place in a regular blender and puree).  Stir in the balsamic vinegar and set aside until ready to serve.  This will keep nicely in the fridge for a couple of weeks and is great on toast and biscuits.

To serve, divide the rice pudding between your bowls. Spoon over a big dollop of your beautiful jam, and sprinkle the crushed meringues over the top.