I chose the recipe for the “wild rice” or “riz sauvage” because I had never heard of this kind of rice before. In Colombia, where I come from, we do not eat this type of rice. I had heard of Asian wild rice but never Canadian. I had further imagined that black varieties of rice would be dyed, like the black risotto which you cook with squid ink. At first, I thought that this recipe used white rice and was going to be quick.
When I started to read the Indian Rice book section, I was struck by Traill’s comment: "In appearance this rice is not the least like the white rice of commerce being long, narrow, and of an olive-green colour outside, but when cooked, is white within.” Once I realized that the recipe used another rice variety, I went online and found that there are many wild rice pudding recipes, each with quite different preparation techniques and ingredients. Some of these recipes add maple syrup or pistachios. Some of them looked creamy, whereas others were more chunky. One recipe mentioned that you need to be patient with this pudding. After preparing Traill’s recipe, I now understand why.
Once I had assembled all of the ingredients (wild rice, eggs, butter, milk, sugar, salt and cinnamon or nutmeg), I followed the instructions from Traill. Overall the pudding takes around 6 hours to cook.
First, she recommended to soak the rice for a few hours, changing the water twice. I did it for two hours and think it was enough time. This step is important as it softens the rice for later steps in the dish. Sometimes I use this technique with white rice but I do not leave it for two hours. Usually less than a minute is sufficient.
For the next step, you have to immerse the rice on a “covered vessel with plenty of water, which should be drained off after it has boiled for ½ hour.” When the water has boiled, you add a good quantity of milk, with a little bit of salt. You then wait until the milk has been absorbed. This step takes around 1 ½ hours.
Finally when the milk has been absorbed you “let the wild-rice cool off” and then you can add 4 eggs (I decided to mix these before), a bit of butter (less than ¼ stick), sugar (I guess the quantity you prefer. I added ½ cup) and cinnamon (also the quantity you prefer). Remember that instead of cinnamon you can use nutmeg. Next you mix everything and put it into a baking pan. The author recommended baking or boiling in a water bath. I decided to put the pudding into the oven for around 1 ½ hours, or until I saw that eggs were cooked and the pudding had the appearance of a cake.
This recipe was a new experience for me because I had never worked with this kind of rice before. It tastes good and I think that if you experiment with adding other ingredients such as: raisins, cream, creamy coconut milk, some fruits chunks, or some caramel at the end, it could be a good dessert. Though I thought that the rice was only so-so in flavor, at least now I know how the wild rice looks like and how it tastes.
Traill recommended other recipes with wild rice in stews and soups. She claimed that most of these were Indian recipes. I would recommend just preparing wild rice as part of an accompaniment for a special meal as the rice was quite expensive to buy.
(this post is by Maria E. Osorio O.)