This is real comfort food at its best. My grandmother made the very best rice pudding in all the world (’tis true) and this just ups it a little, changing the outcome. Give it a whirl, you will absolutely love it.
- 1 x 2 lb. butternut squash, halved, seeded
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 2/3 cup, plus 2 tsp. brown sugar
- 2/3 cup long grain white rice
- pinch of salt
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 cup half and half
- 8 large egg yolks
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
- 2 tbsp. turbinado sugar
- 1 culinary blowtorch
Turn oven on to 450 degrees. Place each piece of the squash on a sheet of tin foil, add 1/2 tbsp. butter and 1 tsp. sugar. Wrap each one separately, cut side up, and bake for 1 hour.
Remove from the oven, carefully open and cool slightly, then scoop all the flesh out into a food processor and puree until completely smooth.
While the squash is baking, prepare the next step by heating rice, salt, 4 cups of milk and remaining sugar in a 3 quart saucepan until very hot. Stir this constantly. Transfer to a large metal bowl set over a large pot of simmering water and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until the rice is tender. (To get to this point, pour a coffee, turn off the phone, pull up a stool). This step takes 1 hour or a little more.
Lightly whisk the egg yolks in a bowl, until well blended. Add the vanilla, ginger, 1 1/3 cups of the squash puree and the half and half. Gradually this to the warm rice, stirring to combine. (Save the balance of the squash for another dish).
Pour this into a buttered 2 qt. oven proof bowl, inside a roasting pan. Take to the oven, then fill with hot water halfway up the sides of the baking dish. Bake until set 55-60 minutes.
To caramelize the pudding, sprinkle the turbinado sugar over the top and use your little blowtorch to melt the sugar. Use a back and forth motion and be careful not to burn. The torch does a much better job than trying to set under the broiler.
Serve to loving family and friends and, once more, be thankful for all you have.