Thursday, December 20, 2012

On the Fourth Day of Christmas... true love gave to me, four colly birds.  That's right - colly birds.  Apparently the version we know featuring "calling birds" is just a horrible bastardization of the original, which isn't really that hard to believe seeing as we live in America and just about all aspects of our culture are distorted, corrupted, twisted hollow shells of what they once were...but I digress.

This revelation was my muse for this recipe.  A colly bird is an English nickname for a blackbird; "colly" being an Old English word meaning "soot" or "coal".  My mind immediately started reeling off all of black foods I could think of...which ended up only being one: blackberries.  I then got the internet to reel off all the black foods it could think of, which ended up being quite a few more, many of which I had never heard of.  One of these was black rice.  My first thought was to do a blackened tofu over black rice with a black bean sauce.  I liked it, I really did, but it didn't feel like a holiday dish to me.  Nothing about it felt special or new or, well, like Christmas.  So, I scrapped the tofu-rice dish.  I started to think of all the foods that embody Christmas for me: the top three dishes being mincemeat cake, waffles and potato soup (both of which may or may not be making an appearance next week), and rice pudding.  Now, I wouldn't consider myself a big rice pudding fan, outside the occasional whipped cream-topped sundae-glass full eaten in a grimy diner booth with a cup of coffee in the middle of the night, of course.  However, every Christmas Day, I partake in the Confoy-Osenlund family tradition of eating rice pudding together with hopes that your bowl will contain the sole almond in the whole batch.  If you get the almond, you are the King/Queen of Christmas and you are forced to wear one of those paper Christmas-cracker crowns.  Its all terribly exciting, and usually results in some fairly embarrassing photos.

So, in honor of the original lyrics and Confoy-Osenlunds, I bring you a black rice pudding topped with blackberries macerated in port and black pepper.

I followed theKitchn's recipe for black rice pudding, minus the coconut.  Also, I highly suggest letting it sit in the fridge over night - it gets thick and creamy and absolutely wonderful.

Port and Black Pepper Macerated Blackberries
½ pint fresh blackberries
1 cup port
1 tbs honey
2 tsp fresh crushed black pepper

+ Place blackberries in a glass measuring cup.  In a small pot, cook port, honey, and 1 tsp of black pepper over medium-high heat.  Once it begins to boil, cook for a moment or two, then pour the hot port over the berries.  Allow to sit and stew for at least 30 minutes - the longer they sit, the more the berries will break down, and the port will infuse in the berries.  
+ After the berries have been sitting, pour the liquid back into the pot.  Add the last tsp of the black pepper. Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer.  Cook until the port has reduced into a thick syrup.
+ To serve, top the black rice pudding with a few blackberries, then drizzle a little of the port-black pepper syrup over the top.

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