Lemon Rice Pudding

1 lemon
1/4 cup rice, jasmine or Basmati
1 pint half and half
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon rum (optional)

Preheat the oven to 250 F. Peel the lemon with a vegetable peeler and cut the peel into fine strips. Mix the peel, rice, sugar, half and half and rum, if you want it, in a small ovenproof dish. Put in the oven and cook uncovered for about 2 1/2 hours, stirring every 45 minutes or so.

When this comes out the rice will have almost dissolved, becoming more like tapioca than anything else. It will thicken quite a lot as it cools. Chill, if you like your rice pudding cold. I can’t wait that long, and eat it barely out of the oven.
Chef’s notes:

? Half and half makes a very rich, thick pudding. I have used 2% and whole milk, which also make the pudding thick and creamy, and I really prefer them to a richer cream.

? Be very, very sure that you don’t take any of the white pith off the lemon with the peel. You want only the very top of the rind, as any white pith will add a bitter note.

? Having said that, still follow directions and use whole peel; finely grated zest doesn’t seem to work as well.

? The pudding will look loose and liquid even when it’s finished. It will firm up considerably as it cools.