03 January 2012

Savory Rice Pudding — Gâteau de riz salé

Do you ever make rice pudding? I do, as a dessert. I use a recipe (Gâteau de riz au four) from the book called Cuisine pour toute l'année (1969) by Monique Maine. One of the big differences between this recipe and most rice pudding recipes is that Maine's doesn't have any eggs in it.

The other day we were going to make a meat fondue — une fondue bourguignonne, from Burgundy — and I was trying to think of what we would have with it. Pommes frites was one idea, but I thought the French fries might just get cold while we were busy cooking chunks of lean beef in hot peanut oil at the table.

Another idea was to make a gratin dauphinois — potatoes au gratin cooked in cream or milk — but I just had a few little potatoes left in the cellar — the bottom of the bag. And then I thought about rice. Specifically, rice pudding. What about a savory — salty rather than sugary — pudding of rice and milk, flavored with onions, carrots, and celery?

It turned out to be really good. The cooking time is long —60 to 90 minutes — but the prep time is minimal. You do have to dice up an onion, a carrot, and a stalk or two of celery. After that, there's not much to it. Here's the recipe:

Savory Rice Pudding

1 cup (240 ml) of white rice
1 quart (one liter) of milk
1 bay leaf
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, cut into dice
2 stalks celery, cut into dice
1 tsp. salt
1 cup grated cheese (optional)

Add the chopped vegetables and the bay leaf to the milk in a saucepan and bring it to the boil on top of the stove. Meanwhile, rinse the rice thoroughly in a strainer under cold running water.

Add the rice to the boiling milk, pour the mixture into a baking dish, and bake, covered, in a 300ºF (150ºC) oven for 60 to 90 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed by the rice. Optionally, at the end of the cooking time scatter grated cheese over the top of the pudding and let it melt in the oven, uncovered.

Cool slightly and serve hot or warm by spooning the pudding out of the baking dish at the table.
Monique Maine's rice pudding recipe calls for the same amounts of milk and rice, but also three-quarters of a cup of sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. She makes a caramel (sugar and water) in a serving dish, packs the cooked rice pudding into it, and cools it in the refrigerator for three hours before unmolding and serving it.


  1. My mother's rice pudding doesn't have eggs in it. It's very simple - put round rice, sugar and milk in a deep dish and bake in the oven for ages. The prize is the caramelised skin on top.

  2. Sorry Ken to remove the previous comment. My iPad did something strange! I was saying that I would try this recipe for a change from risotto when the weather here in Australia cools down. And thank you for the winter photo of the Chateau. I have only ever seen it in spring.

  3. Now, see... what's all this about rinsing the rice? :) Did you do that? Did you do that when you used rice in the States? I remember that my French au pair family cooked their rice like pasta -- instead of letting it absorb all of the water, they cooked it in lots of water, and poured off the excess after cooking time was up. I see that you didn't do that, but I also don't ever rinse rice before cooking it (I'm thinking that some of the necessary starch would be rinsed off?). What do you (all) think about all of this?



    1. rinsing wouldnt really hur it that bad but I wouldnt recommend it. Most of the starches are on the inside and will come out when cooking. Just think of a risotto how it get creamier the longer it cooks. Great recipie but I think I would prefer a stovetop application.

  4. The idea of a savory rice
    pudding appeals to me because
    it would accompany other foods.
    Having a dish of a just rice
    put before me has never appealed
    even though it would be sweet and
    would perhaps contain raisins as
    in my childhood.
    I've never rinsed rice either
    until I started using Basmati,
    which seems to be recommended
    by all directions I checked.

  5. Judy, I'm not sure why you rinse the rice either, but the recipe said to do so, so I did. Seems to me that if you want rice with separate grains, rinsing would help by removing sticky starch. In the case of the pudding, however, separateness is not the goal. Go figure.

    I think people used to cook rice the way you say, like pasta, when I was growing up. And in France, the two cooking methods for rice are called par excès d'eau and par absorption.

  6. Ken, I've noticed that, when using Camargue white rice, it behaves very much like Arborio and will stick beautifully even when rinsed.
    Both are round-grained rice... and I've never met a rissotto recipe that suggests rinsing the Arborio rice.

    Indian puddings use a round grained rice and never mention rinsing.

    American long grained rice definately needs a rinse if being used for a loose rice dish as I believe it is de-husked mechanically by abrasion and a lot of dusty ground rice is left which will cause an unwanted stickiness.
    I've never tried using this for a milk-pudding though.

    Pauline and I tend to cook rice for savoury dishes in the Tefal steamer "par absorption" and the Camrgue rice either needs rinsing the moment it is finished.... or preferably loosened with a fork and a good dollop of Walnut and Colza oil [Vigean's Fruity & Nuts]... I'm definately going to try the savoury rice though.

  7. An interesting gluten free meal idea. Will haveto try it.

  8. What a great idea Ken, so resourceful and creative with what's to hand. It sounds like you made up the recipe which is rather impressive.

    I adore sweet rice pudding, in fact I had it for dessert today in the staff canteen of the school near Lille where I'm working for a year. There is always a choice of lovely things but, unlike most of the teachers, I limit myself to just one a day! The pudding today turned out to have coconut in it, a pleasant but not really necessary addition.

    Bonne cuisine!


    P.S. maybe it's time you & Walt published the St Aignan cookery book, or at least applied to go on 'un diner presque parfait' (on tv channel M6)!

    P.P.S the WV is 'yokels'....what you find in eggels?

  9. Thanks for the comment, Catherine. I hope you enjoy your year in Le Nord. You had a lot of wind and rain up there yesterday, I heard.


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