Sunday, January 31, 2010


A couple foodie friends and I are putting together a Mexican potluck tomorrow, and I volunteered to make horchata. Which I've never done before. (But has that ever stopped me?) Horchata is the perfect drink to quench the fires of a spicy salsa--the starchy rice soaks heat off your tongue just like a tortilla, and the sweet, bland, milky liquid washes the oils right down your throat.

To my dismay, however, I quickly discovered that's there's no real consensus on how to make horchata or even what the ingredients are--although nearly every recipe I looked at included rice, cinnamon, vanilla, and some sort of sugar.

So what's a cook to do? Experiment, experiment, experiment, I say. And sure enough, after a couple of spectacular failures (pretty sure you're supposed to drink it, not eat it!) I hit upon a winning hybrid of the many recipes that tempted me. In the end it was really pretty easy--provided you have a spice grinder, which I do. Here's what I came up with:

Green Betty's Gringa Horchata


1 C rice (You're going to grind it anyway, so does it really matter what kind? I think not. I used basmati.)
1 cinnamon stick, hammered into shards
8 C water
1 can (300 mL) sweetened condensed milk
1 t vanilla
1 t ground cinnamon


Grind your rice in a spice grinder or food processor to cornmeal consistency, cover with water, add your cinnamon stick shards, and let sit for about 12 hours. Strain the liquid through cheesecloth and add sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, and ground cinnamon. Serve cold over ice. Add rum if the situation calls for it. ;-)

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