My mom knows rizogalo is the key to my heart. Her yiayia (grandma) dished it to warm the bellies of her grandkids. Her mother did likewise. Then it was my mom’s turn to keep the rizogalo tradition as an after dinner treat the same way her yiayia did. Blending her yiayias recipe with local author Ellen Furgis’ recipe and countless different batches later, my mom reached rizogalo perfection. Now she serves her version of rizogalo to me and my brothers—and of course all of our hungry friends who can’t get enough of Mama Saltas’ rizogalo.
Rizogalo is not only my favorite dessert but is also my favorite thing my mom makes, period. It always brings me back home. And I live at home. Yes, I’m one of those Greek kids who can’t seem to leave the nest. And why would I want to leave? I get daily lifetime lessons from my dad, my brothers constantly keep me laughing, and I get special homemade batches of rizogalo from my mom. I’ve got it made. As long as my mom keeps making her rizogalo, the only place I’m moving is into the kitchen to refill my bowl.
I’ve made rizogalo many times on my own using her recipe, but there’s just something going on when my mom makes it that makes it more delicious. Maybe she pours the milk in more smoothly or sprinkles the cinnamon on top more evenly than I do. Whatever she does, it’s thick. It’s creamy. It’s home. And now it’s yours. So go ahead, grab a bowl and warm your belly, it’s time to treat yourself with rizogalo.
- 11 cups whole milk
- 1 cup rice (I prefer a long grain rice or Arborio)
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup butter
- 4 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 eggs, separated
- Ground cinnamon for serving
- In a deep saucepan add milk, rice, sugar, and butter. Bring mixture to a boil, being sure to stir constantly from the bottom to avoid scorching.
- Reduce the heat and continue to cook at a medium simmer, uncovered, until the rice is soft (about 1 hour to 90 minutes). The mixture will thicken. Occasionally stir throughout this period.
- When the rice is fully cooked, remove from the heat and stir in vanilla.
- Beat the egg whites until stiff, then fold in the yolks. Slowly add half a cup of the rice mixture into the eggs, continually stirring. This will avoid them cooking into scrambled eggs when added to pudding.
- Now, carefully add the egg mixture into the hot pudding and blend together.
- You can enjoy rizogalo either warm or cold. Cold leftovers are the best.
- Dust with a generous amount of cinnamon on top before serving.