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Horchata

May 13, 2012

Sonoma County may be a culinary destination for other reasons, but in my family we are most grateful for the abundance of fantastic taquerias.  Within walking distance of our house there are many places to enjoy a tasty taco, crunchy tostada or a big @#* burrito. Our kids share our love of Mexican food (which is a family requirement along with love of pizza).  They generally gravitate towards a simple bean and cheese burrito with a Horchata to wash it down.  My husband and I recently discussed that we need to branch out a bit, or our children will think that every restaurant features the cuisine of Mexico!

Horchata is a sweetened rice drink infused with just enough cinnamon to make it interesting.  It is served cold, over ice, and is the perfect balance to a hot and spicy meal.  Given that we often make our own Mexican-inspired food at home, we decided it was time to make horchata as well.  After researching several recipes, I settled on one adapted by David Lebovitz.  It is so incredibly simple that I have happily made it many times already.  Long grain white rice is ground into a powder and soaked with cinnamon over night.  The bits are then strained out and the liquid sweetened and mixed with milk. Done.  I love that by making it at home, I can control the amount of sugar that is in the drink.  Our kids love it and so do we.  According to myth, this drink is also quite the hangover cure, though I can not personally confirm that.  Horchata is a  refreshing drink for any spring or summer day.

Horchata

from Paletas by Fany Gerson via David Lebovitz

makes 6 cups

2/3 cup long-grain white rice

3 cups warm water

One 2-inch cinnamon stick or 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2/3 to 1 cup of sugar (I use 2/3 cup, but taste it and add more if you want it sweeter)

2 cups of rice milk or regular milk (I use non-fat cow’s milk)

ground cinnamon, for serving

Pour the uncooked rice into a blender.  Blend it until it is broken into polenta-sized pieces.  Pour the rice pieces into a bowl or 2 quart jar and cover in 3 cups warm water. Add the cinnamon stick to the mixture.   Let sit overnight- on the counter is ok or in the refrigerator if you feel the need.

In the morning, pull out the cinnamon stick (if using) and puree the rice mixture.  (I like to soak the rice in a 2 quart jar and then just stick the immersion blender in there and whirl away.)  Strain the mixture, reserving the liquid.  David Lebovitz recommends straining through cheesecloth, but I found that a fine mesh sieve works just fine and is much easier.

Stir in the sugar, milk, and ground cinnamon (if using).  Mix until the sugar is dissolved.  Taste for sweetness.  (I like my drinks,and my kid’s, to be low in sugar, so I opt for 2/3 cup sugar.  This is not as sweet as the horchata you would find at a taqueria.  Make yours however you like!)

Refrigerate until chilled.

Serve over ice with a sprinkling of cinnamon.

Print this recipe:  Horchata

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4 Responses to “Horchata”

  1. Janice Says:

    I can’t wait to try this. And it gives me something to do with my white rice now that I’m a brown rice fanatic.

  2. Ms. T Says:

    Ooh, this looks lovely! I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never tried horchata and didn’t know exactly what it was until i read this. (I guess I’ve got the agua fresca blinders on when I go to taquerias). The Vampire Weekend song always made me wonder…now I know, and must try.

  3. Hannah Says:

    I have always wanted to make horchata, Karen – what a terrific drink for summer!


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