Culinary SOS: Rice pudding from the Lazy Ox Canteen


I’ve only had rice pudding in college dining halls 10-plus years ago and was never a fan. But last night I had the rice pudding at Lazy Ox Canteen; I think my knees went weak. Could you help me get this recipe? I have been thinking about it for 12 hours straight.

Elizabeth Kim

Los Angeles

I’m not a big dessert person, but I recently tasted a heavenly dessert at a fairly new restaurant in L.A. called Lazy Ox Canteen. It was their only dessert at lunch, and it was some type of a rice pudding. Please see if you can obtain the recipe.

Susie Oh

Los Angeles

Dear Elizabeth and Susie: What immediately sets this rice pudding apart is its amazingly light and delicate texture. Make the pudding ahead of time and chill thoroughly, then fold in whipped cream at the last minute to give it that fluffy texture. Serve it with warm caramel sauce and almond brittle for added texture, and you’ll never look at rice pudding in the same way again.

Lazy Ox Canteen’s rice pudding

Total time: 11/2 hours, plus chilling time

Servings: 10 to 12

Note: Adapted from Chef Josef Centeno of Lazy Ox Canteen.

Rice pudding base

1/2 cup Arborio rice

2 cups water


1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick, preferably Mexican (canela)

1 quart half and half, more if needed

1/2 to 1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/3 cup condensed milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Rinse the Arborio rice several times until the water runs clear. This is very important, so that rice will be evenly overcooked and there will be no al dente grains.

2. In a heavy saucepan, bring the 2 cups water, a pinch of salt and the cinnamon stick to a simmer over high heat. Add the rice and simmer until it has absorbed the water, about 10 minutes.

3. Stir in the half and half and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a very gentle simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally (be sure to stir the bottom of the pan to prevent the rice from sticking; if it burns, you will need to start over). Depending on how quickly the rice absorbs the liquid, you may need to add a little more water or half and half as needed.

4. Stir in the cream, brown sugar, condensed milk and vanilla extract. Continue to simmer gently, stirring frequently, until the rice is very thick and creamy (it should have no “bite” whatsoever), about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat.

5. While the mixture is still very hot, adjust the consistency as needed with additional cream (it should be rather thin, as it will thicken dramatically as it cools; it will be easier to finish the rice for service if it is not too thick). Taste the rice and adjust the flavor with more salt and/or sugar as desired.

6. Move the rice to a medium bowl and cover with plastic wrap pressed flat against the surface (this will prevent a skin from forming). Refrigerate the rice until chilled.


1 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1 orange peel

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons unsalted butter


1. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the mixture caramelizes to a light golden brown. (Do not stir the sugar once it begins to bubble, and brush the sides of the pan with water to keep the sugar from crystallizing — if it crystallizes, you will need to start over.)

2. While the sugar is cooking, combine the orange peel and cream in a small saucepan over high heat. Scald the cream, then remove from heat.

3. When the sugar has caramelized, add the butter and stir slowly with a wooden spoon, being careful not to seize the caramel. Slowly add in the hot cream, being careful of the hot steam.

4. Season the caramel with a pinch of salt, and reserve in a warm place. This makes a scant 1 cup caramel.

Almond brittle

Butter, for greasing the sheet pan

1/4 cup whole almonds

3 tablespoons olive oil

Fleur de sel

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1/2 teaspoon baking soda (optional, this will make for a lighter and more airy brittle)

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a rimmed sheet pan and set it aside.

2. Toss the almonds with the olive oil and a sprinkling of fleur de sel. Place the almonds on a baking sheet (not the buttered pan) and toast until golden and aromatic, about 4 to 6 minutes. Set aside in a warm place.

3. While the almonds are toasting, in a small heavy-bottom saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the sugar and water and cook until the mixture begins to boil. (Use a small brush dipped in cold water to brush down sugar crystals that cling to sides of pan.)

4. Boil the sugar without stirring until a candy thermometer inserted reads 310 degrees (hard-crack stage); the sugar should be golden. Remove from heat and stir in the warm toasted almonds and baking soda, if using.

5. Immediately pour the mixture onto the buttered sheet pan, spreading it into an even layer with a metal spatula. Sprinkle over a pinch of fleur de sel, then set the mixture aside until hardened, about 30 minutes.

6. Break the brittle, crushing it to desired consistency.

Final assembly

Chilled rice pudding base

2 cups heavy cream, whipped, more or less as desired

Warm caramel

Crushed almond brittle

1. Spoon the chilled rice pudding base into a large bowl and fold in whipped cream until the mixture has achieved a sufficiently fluffy and light consistency (this makes a generous 6 cups pudding).

2. Spoon the pudding into bowls and garnish with the warm caramel and crushed almond brittle. Serve immediately.

Each of 12 servings: 572 calories; 5 grams protein; 58 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 37 grams fat; 21 grams saturated fat; 113 mg. cholesterol; 47 grams sugar; 97 mg. sodium.