Risgrøt, or risengrynsgrøt as they call it in my part of Norway, is a simple rice porridge made typically of short grain rice, short grain rice, salt and perhaps a little cream. Served with a generous sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon with a big dollop of butter placed in the middle, this is a creamy and luxurious dish that is impossible to not love.
Risgrøt is a classic dish commonly served around Christmas time, and famously to Santa Claus on Christmas Eve to thank him for all his hard work delivering presents to all the children. The dish would historically be put outside by the barn, where Santa Claus was thought to hang around. By feeding him, he would also be sure to take care of and feed the animals in the barn.
There are many fascinating stories of Santa Claus from my homeland, or fjøsnissen, (fjøs = barn, nisse= Santa Claus), as he is often called in Norway, but I will reserve those for another blog post.
I was inspired to re-create this dish when I came across my friend Mia’s blog post about risgrøt. Mia runs the very popular Norwegian food blog called Green Bonanza, and she is also the author of two beautiful cookbooks, Grønn Bonanza (Green Bonanza) and Grønnere! (Greener!). If you read Norwegian, I highly recommend both, as her food is beautiful! Our style and philosophy of cooking are somewhat similar, which I find really fun.
It is super simple to veganize risgrøt, and in fact in Norway it has become more popular to do so as so many Norwegians are becoming lactose intolerant. The best rice to use in my opinion is arborio rice, which is a high-starch, short grain rice used in risotto making. You can also use carnaroli or vialone nano, a different style of risotto rice, and both short grain too. Never use long grain rice, as it doesn’t have enough starch to produce the texture you’re looking for, neither the look or flavor.
You can use any type of non-dairy milk to cook the porridge, personally I prefer organic soy milk. Some people add in canned coconut milk in the end, but I find that personally this is too rich for me, plus I don’t like the coconut flavor it imparts (not a classic flavor in risgrøt).
I, like my friend Mia, find the way to make the creamiest version of risgrøt is to cook it somewhat like risotto. This slowly releases the starch, making the porridge rich and creamy. Start with pre-cooking the grains in water until al-dente, then ladle in spoonfuls of milk as you keep stirring. Make sure to use a good pot with a heavy bottom as the rice can stick even as you are careful stirring. The porridge is ready when the rice is soft and most of the liquid is evaporated.
In Norway we eat risgrøt for dinner, while Americans and others might consider this more of a breakfast item. In my family, my mom would make risgrøt for us on Saturdays, when we ate dinner around 1 or 2pm (don’t worry, there were plenty of meals the rest of the day!). Sometimes I would add raisins to risgrøt, but more often than not, that is more classic on rømmegrøt, a sour cream porridge that is also very popular in Norway. I will hopefully cover this porridge in a blog post in the not too distant future.
Regardless of when you decide to eat this rice porridge, be prepared for deliciousness! Also, I recommend maybe doubling this recipe and making riskrem for dessert the following day. Riskrem is a dessert that uses the leftover risgrøt, combined with vanilla whipped cream and served with a raspberry coulis. Check out my previous blog post about riskrem and get the recipe here.
But for now… get to work on that risgrøt, so you have time to perfect it for Santa on Christmas Eve!
RISGRØT (Norwegian Rice Porridge)
1 3/4 cups (4dl) water
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2dl) arborio rice
1 tbsp granulated sugar
2 cups (5dl) soy milk
In a heavy bottom sauce pan, bring the water and salt to a boil, add in the arborio rice, and stir. Stir regularly until the water is absorbed. Add the sugar, then using a 5 oz (1.5dl) soup ladle or equivalent, start adding one ladle of milk at a time, stir, wait until the milk is nearly evaporated, then add another ladle. It should take 3-4 times to use up the liquid and before the rice is properly creamy and cooked.
Serve immediately generously sprinkled with sugar, cinnamon and a big dollop of vegan butter in the middle.