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While reading the Wikipedia article on rice pudding, my curiosity has gotten the better of me. Clearly, any flavourings, spices, toppings or sweeteners will be optional and the article also explicitly states that eggs are optional.

Referring specifically to their section on the UK variants, it seems to be the case that the minimal set of ingredients is either milk, rice, and cream or milk, rice, and butter. This has me quite surprised, as both experience and the earlier parts of the article have suggested that milk is normally a good enough substitute for cream, so I see no reason why it wouldn't be possible to make rice pudding with either just milk and rice or just rice and cream.

However, I've yet to see a recipe for either of these two minimalist options. Is there any practical reason why this wouldn't work?

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    Speculation: Nobody bothers to publish a “super-minimalistic recipe” because every author/blogger/cook wants to emphasize the “specialness” of their recipe. – Stephie May 26 '18 at 9:41
  • And, maybe it just won't taste that good... – Daniel Griscom May 26 '18 at 11:45
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The absolute minimalist version needs 2 ingredients:

  • 1 part short-grain rice, cooked in
  • 4 parts milk

If cooked long enough and especially when stirred diligently, the rice will release enough starch to create a creamy, mushy texture, like risotto. But for rice pudding, the rice is usually cooked softer than risotto, which should have a bit of a “bite”.

You can stop at this point and will have a perfectly fine dish, but probably a bit on the bland side, with just a hint of sweetness from the starch and milk. But it can be a neutral base for fresh fruit, applesauce, ...

I personally would always add a pinch of salt and, if going for an especially rich taste, a splash of cream when fully cooked.

All spices are optional, they change the flavor profile and that’s where the cook’s creativity can shine. Roughly the same is true for sugar or other sweeteners. (I like to add sugar after cooking, sometimes even as topping for each serving, because I feel that cooking without sugar reduces the risk of sticking/burning and because it seems that I need to add less for the same perceived sweetness.)

  • Excellent. That sounds just like what I had in mind. So the overall minimalist recipe will just be "bring milk to boil, add uncooked rice, stir until done"? As for the list of ingredients, the 4 parts milk sounds excessive. Is there any reason for using such a high proportion? – J. Mini May 26 '18 at 9:40
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    That simple, yes. And recipes vary as far as ratios go, but you will need significantly more than for plain rice in water: a) the rice gets cooked softer, so absorbs more b) part of the milk together with the starch makes a thick custard-like sauce. It depends a bit on the rice, too. You can start with less and add more during cooking as needed. And note that what is like a porridge when hot will solidify completely when cold. – Stephie May 26 '18 at 9:46

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