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Souffle di riso carnaroli al limone (Carnaroli rice and lemon souffle)

02 November 2006

Ingredients
(Serves six)

200g carnaroli rice
2 litres milk
1/2 vanilla pod, split lengthways
25g orange juice
50g caster sugar
50g unsalted butter
3 big, similar-sized lemons (preferably Sorrento) or oranges
65g cornflour
3 gelatine leaves, soaked in water and squeezed
For the meringue
250g egg whites
190g caster sugar

Method
Put a tray into the fridge so that it gets really cold. Preheat the oven to 200°C, gas 6.

Put 80g of the rice in a pan with half the milk, bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer and overcook, ie, until the rice is really soft. Blend the rice and milk with a hand blender until smooth, and put through a fine sieve. Keep to one side.

Put the rest of the milk in a pan, add the vanilla pod, scraping in the seeds, and bring to the boil. Add the remaining rice and, this time, cook until it is al dente (just firm to the bite). Drain through a fine sieve, take out the vanilla pod and spread the rice out on the tray you have chilled in the fridge - this will stop it cooking any more. Leave in a cool place (though not in the fridge) so that it cools as quickly as possible.

Warm the orange juice and sugar in a pan. When the sugar has dissolved, take off the heat, add the butter, and whisk until it is properly incorporated. Leave this at room temperature while you prepare your lemons or oranges.

Trim each end of your fruit until flat, then cut in half widthways. Scoop out all the flesh with a spoon and discard it, leaving you with six fruit ramekins. Put in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour.

Brush the inside and rims of the fruit with the orange juice mixture, making sure every bit is completely covered - this is to make sure that the inside, and particularly the rims, are completely sealed and smooth, so that the soufflé doesn't catch as it rises. Lay upside down on a tray lined with a sheet of parchment paper and put back in the fridge for about five minutes, so that any excess syrup can drain off, then turn them upright again and leave in the fridge until you need them.

With a knife, chop through the cooled rice grains to produce finer pieces and put into a bowl.

Put the reserved rice "milk" back on the heat, keeping back about four tablespoons. Mix this with the cornflour.

When the rice mixture comes to the boil, add the cornflour mixture, stirring all the time, and simmer for about a minute to cook out the flavour of the flour. Take off the heat and add the gelatine. When the gelatine has dissolved, pour the mixture over the rice grains, stirring all the time, as the mixture will now be very thick.

To make the meringue, put the egg whites into a mixer and whisk until you can make a trace with the whisk. Add the sugar very slowly, until you can form firm peaks.

Very carefully and lightly, begin to fold the meringue into the rice mixture - incorporate a third of it first and fold it in completely, then, again, but very lightly, fold in the rest. It is important not to overwork the mixture, as you are trying to trap as much air into it as possible, to enable the soufflé to rise.

The easiest way to fill your fruit containers evenly is to spoon the mixture into a piping bag with a large hole and pipe it in to about 5mm below the rim. Alternatively, you can just spoon it in. Put the soufflés into the oven for around eight minutes until they are puffed up and golden. Don't open the oven door before then.

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