2016 has been an extraordinary year, to say the least. This past January, I launched the blog to bring people into the Norwegian kitchen, the Norwegian landscape and the Norwegian culture. A reflection of my journey. My interactions with the community around me. My take on local ingredients. The seasons came and went. Spring’s nettles, ferns and rhubarb, summer’s berries, autumns’s harvest and winter’s cakes and hearty fare. Here we are, coming full circle once again.
As 2017 draws near, I look back with such awe of all that has transpired and all that I have experienced and been a part of. All of the recipes. All of the stories. All of the people. All of the traditions and all of the innovations. All the highs. So many highs.
There’s a reason that the end of the year and the start of the next year calls for celebration. We reflect and remember what has passed, giving those experiences even greater meaning. And we look forward in hope of what will come. There’s always something to be grateful for, from the smallest moments to the greatest. Just call me a ‘glass is half full’ kinda girl, looking back through rose-colored glasses.
I knew I wanted to make something that sums up 2016 and reflects the season and the traditions of Norway. Something heart-warming and a bit indulgent. Rice Porridge Ice Cream may seem simple enough, but it’s subtle flavor is memorable and comforting. The porridge itself comes with a rich history and has its associations with festivity and exclusivity. It’s also one of my favorite dishes. A soul-satisfying bowl of goodness.
Rice porridge was first introduced into Norway in the 1300s, but reserved for the elite and wealthy. It was customary to serve it on Christmas Eve as a symbol of status. A few hundred years later, in the 1800s, rice porridge became more available to the working class and remained a Christmas Eve tradition as well as a Saturday dish.
Today, most Norwegians proudly and lovingly serve rice porridge for lunch on Christmas Eve. The leftovers are then used to make riskrem, rice porridge blended together with whipped cream and sugar to make a fluffy pudding. It’s served with an incredibly vibrant red berry sauce.
This year, I’m using up the leftovers from the risengrynsgrøt to make an ice cream. It just makes sense. A version of riskrem in frozen form. Perhaps my desire for rice pudding ice cream comes from my years spent living in Rome when my love affair with rice gelato (gelato di riso) began. I would make my way through the throbbing, cobble-stoned streets just to find a scoop of this delectable treat.
You don’t need to venture your way to Italy to know the wonders of what rice bathing in milk can produce. Norwegians have their version down perfectly and with the addition of some egg yolks, cream and sugar, you get a beautiful rice porridge ice cream. Which, dare I say, is slightly more indulgent than your normal rice gelato.
Of course, adding the beloved red sauce (with a splash of aquavit!) takes this ice cream to a whole new level of incredible. It’s comfort and a bit of glamor all rolled into one. The perfect end to a brilliant 2016, and a great start to 2017!
Rice Porridge Ice Cream (Risengrynsgrøt Iskrem)
- 450 grams leftover risengrynsgrøt/rice porridge (to make a new batch, see below)
- ¾ cup sugar
- 5 egg yolks
- 1 cup heavy cream
Red Berry Sauce (makes approximately 3/4 cup)
- 300 dl / 250 g frozen red berries (I use a mix of raspberries and strawberries)
- 2 Tb aquavit or 2 Tb water
- 50 grams (½ cup) sugar
- 1 tsp potato flour mixed together with 2 tsp cold water
Risengrynsgrøt/Rice Porridge (makes 4 servings or 450 grams) –
- 2 dl (¾ cup) Arborio rice or a white-medium grain rice
- 13 dl (5 ½ cups) whole milk (if you prefer not to use whole milk than use no less than 1%)
- ½ vanilla bean
*If using leftover risengrynsgrøt, skip to the third step.
To make the risengrynsgrøt (rice porridge), begin by warming the milk in a saucepan with the vanilla bean and seeds (make an incision along the bean and scrape out the seeds, placing both the bean and the seeds into the milk). When it is warm to the touch remove it from the heat. Leave the vanilla bean in the milk and discard when the last of the milk is used.
Take a heavy bottomed pot and place the rice inside. Place on the stove over medium-high heat. Taking about 1 cup of milk at a time, pour over the rice and let it simmer gently until most of the milk has been absorbed by the rice. Continue to add another cup of milk until almost all of the milk has been absorbed into the rice and the consistency is creamy and thick, but not too thick. Remove from the stove and let cool.
When the rice porridge has cooled, add in the egg yolks, sugar and heavy cream. Gently mix together. It will be more like a rice custard now. Place in the refrigerator for about 2 hours to cool.
You can use an ice cream machine, but it might prove difficult because of the thickness of the rice grains. I suggest putting the mixture into a large container with a lid in the freezer, stirring it every 30 minutes until it has reached the right consistency. I started with the ice cream machine and ended up going with the freezer method.
When you are ready to serve the ice cream, be sure to take it out of the freezer and let it stand for about 30 minutes prior. It has a tendency to be rock hard at the beginning and then soften up after awhile. Don’t fret, just be sure to give yourself a bit of time.
To make the red sauce, bring the berries, sugar and aquavit (or water) to a small boil. Cook until the fruit has softened and crush gently as you cook to break up the fruit. Place the sauce through a sieve to remove the seeds and pulp.
Return the puree to the pan over low heat. Add the potato flour slurry (potato flour and water mixture) and combine until thickened. Take off the heat and place in a serving jar. Serve alongside the rice pudding ice cream or drizzle on top. Feel free to top with almond slices if you like.
Check out my Rommegrøt Ice Cream for another take on a classic porridge dish.
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