Drinking Horchata.

The first time I ever had horchata was about 10 years ago with my friend Frankee. We were at a little Mexican place in Kankakee, Illinois, and her husband ordered a pitcher for us to share. She actually didn't drink it, since she doesn't like it, but I was hooked. Ever since, I usually ask for it whenever I try out new Mexican places. Until recently, I'd only score once or twice a year, but happily it now seems easier to find. Some are thick, some light, and others gritty. Some are so sweet, and others barely sweetened at all. I like them all, poured over huge amounts of crushed ice or ice cubes. Basically, I don't care what kind it is, since it all appeals to me equally.

Really, there are three reasons for my horchata making yesterday. Last night, I went to see Vampire Weekend and the title track on their sophomore album is Horchata. I'd be hard pressed to get the opening lines out of my brain, since it has been running through my head for the past 2 days now. I also checked out this post from Glutster yesterday, and decided that his photos were so great I had to have some horchata immediately. I have a car today, and am half thinking I'll run over to El Rey and find some pureed red cactus fruit (tuna or jiotilla), so my next glass can be as delightfully rosy as Javier's. Reason three is that my Spanish teacher, Rosa, was telling me that she is eating gluten free and sugar free right now. Rice is gluten free, and I figured you could probably sweeten horchata with stevia if you felt the need, so this could be an easily adaptable drink for allergen conscious people.

Making horchata is really as easy as drinking it, you just have to have a bit of patience. One of my Rick Bayless cookbooks had a recipe using almonds, but since I was nearly out of them, I adapted his method to this recipe, by Chelsey Kenyon. Really, I ended up using both recipes, since I added milk. The beauty of horchata is that you can do whatever you like best, to concoct a result that suits you. I did use plain old refined sugar, but knocked it way back to about a 1/4 c. Rick's recipe called for 1 cup, and Chelsey's recipe for 1/2 cup. Like I said, it is purely a matter of taste.

Rcakewalk Horchata (inspired by Rick Bayless and Chelsey Kenyon)
  • 1 c. white rice
  • 2 1/2 c. drinking water
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick (canela)
  • scant 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 c. milk (2% is what I used)
Grind the rice in a blender, or a coffee grinder like I did, until it is finely ground. You can leave the cinnamon stick whole, or break it apart if you like more cinnamon flavor. Heat 2 1/2 cups of water until hot but not boiling, and pour it over the rice and cinnamon. Let it come to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate overnight.

After refrigeration, pour the mixture into a blender. I left the cinnamon in, since I'm crazy for cinnamon, but you can fish most of it out if you prefer less. Add sugar, and mix on high for about 3 minutes until the rice is finely ground. Pour through a fine sieve (or through layers of cheesecloth and a regular sieve) to remove most of the rice pulp. (I actually like a bit of grittiness, but you could make this absolutely grit-less by using a finer sieve and perhaps running the liquid through a muslin bag.) Transfer to a pitcher.

Stir in milk. You could add more milk, or more water, or some of each, but I liked the result with just a cup of milk. You could also add additional sugar at this point if you like. Serve on ice and dream of warm weather.

"In December drinking horchata
I'd look psychotic in my balaclava
Winter's cold is too much to handle
Pincher crabs that pinch at your sandals


Addicting lyrics indeed, almost as addicting as the horchata itself. My milky glass below doesn't pack the same visual punch as the rosy, pecan garnished one that Glutster enjoyed the other day, but it sure hit the spot for me.