The 3rd of December was my birthday, almost this blog's birthday (it was the 5th December) and it was the Christmas version on the Irish Foodies Cookalong.
As I was not entirely in the mood for cooking, having eaten a really excellent lunch in One Pico and lots of birthday cake, I decided to make the traditional starter for a Danish Christmas dinner, Risengrød or Rice Porridge.
In Denmark they have their main Christmas meal on Christmas Eve and traditionally they would serve Risengrød as the starter. This rice porridge would fill you up so that when the meat was served, you wouldn't mind if you didn't receive much as you were all ready quite full. This would've been back when meat was very expensive and for most families it would be a treat on feast days like Christmas.
Nowadays many Danish families have exchanged having Risengrød at the start of the meal for a dish called Risalamande, a cold, sweet, creamed rice dish, as a dessert. However, in my family we still eat the hot Risengrød as a starter.
Risengrød is also nice to eat for breakfast or as a comfort dish on cold, wintery days.
The best thing about this recipe is that there is only 2 ingredients! It does take a while to cook but the resulting porridge is a wonderful, comforting dish.
First measure out the milk and rice. Put the milk into a pot and bring to the boil.
Add the rice to the boiling milk and stir until the milk returns to the boil.
Turn off the heat and let the rice and milk stand for 20 mins so that the rice can absorb some of the milk.
After the 20 mins, bring the milk and rice back up to the boil, stirring continuously. Once the milk has boiled, reduce to a simmer.
The rice should take about ¾ of an hour to cook through. You should frequently stir the rice while it is cooking to prevent it burning to the bottom of the saucepan.
The rice is ready when it looks soft and creamy and is soft to bite into, not unlike normal porridge. If it seems a little dry or stiff at this point, add some more milk until the texture has improved.
What makes risengrød different from an Irish rice pudding is what you eat it with. Danish rice porridge is traditionally eaten with a large knob of butter, sugar and cinnamon.
The Danes also serve it with Nisseøl, a light, malty, sweet beer (very light, you can give it to children). It is poured over the rice, personally I don't like it on the porridge, but I do like it to drink on the side.
The most important thing about risengrød, is to leave a bowl out for the nisse, a little elf who lives in your house and looks after you and your family during the year. The bowl of risengrød ensures that your home's nisse will continue to look after you in the coming year. The nisse in turn will hide an almond in somebody's risengrød and the one who finds it receives a gift. Funnily enough, it's often the youngest member of the family who finds the almond.
Do let me know if you give risengrød a go and what you think of it. Don't forget to leave some for your nisse!