rice pudding and/or cream sauce-- thickening
Rice pudding #1. My first try. Saturday. It thickened.
Pudding #2, my second try. Sunday. It never thickened, not even overnight in the fridge.
Did I stop stirring it too soon? The recipe is milk, cooked rice, half-and-half, sugar, spice. Raisins after cooking.
So my real question, and this pertains also to cream sauces such as Alfredo, is: Does the cream really "thicken", as flour-based sauces thicken, or are you only evaporating it? I was just clueless what to look for. The recipe said, Bring to boil; decrease heat and simmer, whisking, for 5-10 minutes OR until it "begins to thicken". I stirred it longer than that and never saw what looked like thickening.
Maybe I simmered it at higher temp the first try, the one that worked.
(The failed pudding did get salvaged. Returned it to a pot this morning and simmered it; forgot it, it boiled, whisked it, and poured it up. Then it was nice and thick.)
Also why do some recipes say to boil cream and others say not to? It seems wrong to boil cream. ???
The starch comes out of the rice... and the water part of the cream/milk evaporates. Thickening is a combination of both. If your pudding didn't thicken the odds are that you didn't cook it for long enough. Reheat the leftovers and beat a couple of eggs into it and stir it until it thickens up. Or heat it and add some cornstarch and again stir until it thickens.
Hmm, I think it is your recipes/technique. You need to remember that recipes are just a guideline.
Rice pudding. If it's not thick, then you put in too much liquid. Add the liquid gradually, in 3 or 4 separate portions, stirring to incorporate in between. Some recipes will instruct you to make a custard (temper egg yolks into hot milk.)
Alfredo. Cream is not a thickener or binder in Alfredo. Classic Alfredo has only butter and Parmigiano. It is the melted Parmigiano that makes a sauce, and you may add a touch of cream to it loosen or extend it.
In general, for thickening, you are looking for a liquid that is able to coat the back of a spoon, and when you run your finger through it, the cleared line holds.
There is nothing wrong with boiling cream, just watch for boilovers. Usually I use a very wide pan if I want to reduce cream.
In rice pudding the thickening comes from starches in the rice. A 4:1 ratio of liquid to rice seems about right in my experience. Cooked rice is about 2:1, so add the same amount of liquid for the 2nd phase. Look up recipes for congee to see what Chinese do to make a rice porridge. Eggs add richness and thickening, especially if you want more of a set, custard quality.
It is easier to add more liquid to your pudding (or any cooking grain or cereal) than to 'remove' it.