My mother has been making this recipe for years. It comes from my family, from Poland, and tastes like home. It is so comforting and simple. The best way I can explain it, is by giving you the recipe: it’s rice cooked in lightly sweetened milk, layered with fruit, and baked in an oven for an hour. What it turns into is something akin to rice pudding, but not exactly.
I make it at all times of the year, whenever some kind of stone fruit is available. And when it isn’t I reach for my stores of frozen fruit – and I always make sure to hoard and freeze when the season is here. Traditionally, my mother has used prune plums and apples. I’ve used all kinds of stone fruit here in California (pluots, red plums) and lately I’ve been adding strawberries.
I made this dish last weekend, after we came home from a hike in the blustery Santa Cruz mountains and needed something to warm up. Since this was an early dinner for us, I finally got out my camera and documented the process, so I could share with you. And yes, dinner that is topped with sugar and sour cream is totally legit in my books. I love my people.
Recipe after the indulgent foodie shots.
Polish Rice with Plums
Fruit (traditional filling):
About 12 small plums (I like to use prune plums: dark purple, with golden flesh), around 2 lbs
2 apples (Golden Delicious)
Edit: After a few years of making this recipe, more fruit is definitely better: I am now using 4-6 cups of fruit total, so go for whatever will fit in your baking dish!
Split plums in half, remove pits. Peel and cube apple roughly. If desired, sprinkle some cinnamon on the fruit.
3 cups milk
1 cup water
2 cups rice (Calrose or sushi rice)
2 tablespoons sugar
Boil milk, water, and sugar in a large saucepan. Add rice and continue to boil, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom of the pot to prevent rice from sticking. Boil gently until liquid has thickened somewhat but is still quite runny. Rice should still have plenty of tooth, as it will continue to cook in the oven.
In a deep casserole dish, cover the bottom of the dish with (less than) half of the rice. Add fruit. Sprinkle with a bit of sugar and optional cinnamon. Top off with the remaining rice and a sprinkle of sugar.
Cover and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, for one hour. You should see the juice from the fruit bubbling up through the rice towards the end of cooking. This is a good sign that you’ve used enough fruit. Remove the cover for the last 15 minutes of baking.
Let stand for a few minutes to set and cool slightly before serving. Rice is very hot straight from the oven. Serve topped with sour cream and sugar.
All photos by Karolina Buchner