Very Vanilla Rice Pudding
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 c. arborio rice
1/4 c. bourbon
4 c. whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split
2/3 c. vanilla sugar (or plain ol’ sugar)
pinch of salt
1/2 lemon
1/4 mascarpone (optional)

In a medium saucepan, heat the milk gently with the vanilla bean, vanilla sugar and salt. Bring to just below a simmer and keep hot.

In another, heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. When the foam subsides, add the rice and toss to coat. Toast the rice for a few minutes, until the grains start to look slightly transparent. The heat shouldn’t be so high that the rice starts to brown.

Stir the boubon into the rice; stir vigorously until the booze is all absorbed/cooked off.

Start adding the hot milk into the rice, one cup at a time. Stir well after each addition; let the rice simmer, stirring frequently and adding more milk when the last batch has been mostly absorbed. Start tasting the rice for doneness after about 15 minutes of cooking; you may not need all the milk.

When the rice is done – it should be nice and creamy – stir in the juice of half a lemon and, if you’re using it, the mascarpone. Eat hot or cold, what do I care?

If you’d like, make a quick peach compote while the rice simmers – dice a cup of peaches and toss with a few tablespoons of brown sugar over medium heat until the sugar and peach juices combine to make a sauce.