Written By David S. Shields
Originally appeared in the Rice Paper Newsletter, Spring 2012
In debates about who was the greatest chef working in the United States during the 19th-century, when haute cuisine came into being, the name of Charles Ranhoffer often receives mention. This French-educated culinary genius presided as chef de cuisine at Delmonico’s in New York City from the Civil War to the Gilded Age.
Early in Ranhoffer’s career he spent four years, 1856-60, under F. Lefevre in New Orleans learning how to treat Southern ingredients. There he came to know and cherish Carolina Rice. In Ranhoffer’s published treasury of recipes, The Epicurean, he invariably specifies Carolina Rice when rice is featured in a dish.
Of the several rice recipes in this book, one speaks to the refined taste that came to typify the offerings at Delmonico’s. It is a masterwork of simple luxury:
Rice Ice Cream, Paradise Recipe
Wash and blanch 12 ounces of Carolina rice; drain. Take four ounces of it and cook it thoroughly in four quarts of milk; strain through a sieve. Put 32 egg yolks in a tinned basin, add two pounds and a quarter of sugar, and beat both together, then put in the rice pulp; set it on the fire and beat steadily until the preparation covers the spatula; leave stand till cold; run it through a sieve, and replace it in the basin after it has been well cleaned; lay it on ice; whip to have the mixture light, and stir in as much whipped cream. Cook the remainder of the rice in a vanilla syrup at 20 degrees; cool off, drain, add it to the composition, and freeze.
The Epicurean, p. 988.
If one craves more complexity of taste, Ranhoffer offers a variation with citron and truffles.