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Florentine Rice Gelato

The best gelato di riso I tasted was from Gelateria Il Fantino in Campi Bisenzio, near Florence.
San Guido Ballerini wouldn't part with his recipe, I tried to re-create it using a basic vanilla base. It is best to use long-grain rice; it has less starch, so the grains don't stick together when cooking.

6 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup sugar
1 cup long grain rice, rinsed well
2/3 cup heavy cream
Pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split
6 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Although rice originated in Asia, Italy now produces 60 percent of the rice for the European market. Originally imported by the early Romans for medicinal and cosmetic purposes, this grain has clearly reached a high culinary stature.

In a large saucepan, heat 4 cups milk. Add 1/3 cup sugar, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add the rice and simmer for one hour, stirring frequently and stirring any skin that forms back into the mixture. Rice will be very tender and the milk will thicken. Set aside to cool, stirring occasionally to keep from clumping. Stir in the cream and place in the refrigerate to chill thoroughly.
In a medium saucepan, scald the remaining 2 1/2 cup milk with a pinch of salt and the vanilla bean.
In a blender, beat the remaining 2/3 cup sugar and egg yolks together until very thick. Remove the vanilla bean from the milk. With the blender running, add the hot milk slowly so that the eggs don't curdle. When the milk has been incorporated, transfer the mixture back to the saucepan.
Cook over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon. Remove from the heat and place it in a cold water bath. Stir 2 minutes to stop the cooking and cool the mixture. Chill thoroughly.
When custard mixture has completely cooled, stir in the rice and nutmeg. Transfer to a chilled ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's directions.
Serves 8

Picture by Joyce Dudkerk-Pool


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