(Porkkanalaatikko in Finnish, morotslåda in Swedish)
This is really a Christmas dish, and about as traditional as you can get. I started thinking about it when I read about the Finnish food blog challenge for this month and just couldn't let go, because I've never made it myself - my grandmother and aunt both bring their own versions to Christmas Eve dinner, so there hasn't been any need. It's filling, slightly sweet (to go with the salty ham that people usually have for Christmas), a bit mushy and ultimately just a great comfort food.
We had ours with sauteed brussels sprouts and bacon. (Mmm, bacon.) I could also have gone for (don't laugh) canned petits pois and some sort of gravy, but I got voted down. It made me miss all the snow, not that we had any last Christmas.
There are some variations to what I consider the basic recipe, as presented here: sometimes the carrot isn't boiled and pureed but finely grated, and sometimes other grains, namely barley, are used instead of the rice. Obviously those are healthier versions, and I do like the nuttiness and texture of barley, but for me the rice-and-puree edition is The One.
150 ml (5 fl oz) short grain rice
150 ml (5 fl oz) water
600 ml (2½ cups) milk (I used 1.5%, but you could go for whole)
1 kg (2 lb) carrots
1½ tsp salt
200 ml (scant 7 fl oz) whipping cream
3 tbsp dark syrup (or molasses, I guess)
ground white pepper
freshly grated nutmeg
Bring the water to a boil in a large-ish pan. Add the rice and stir until the water dissolves. Pour in the milk and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently. Boil on a very low heat, covered, until the rice has been absorbed and a thick, smooth porridge has formed. (This takes quite a while, maybe 45 minutes or so.)
Meanwhile, chop the carrots coarsely and boil in a bit of water until they're very soft. Drain and return the pan to the stove until the carrots are completely dry. Puree and mix with the rice, syrup and spices.
Once the rice and carrots have cooled enough that they won't cook the eggs on contact, add those and stir to blend. Whip the cream and fold it in gently. Transfer to one or two buttered, oven-proof casserole dishes. (Ramekins are cuter, but I think it's better made in a large dish.) Sprinkle with enough breadcrumbs to cover and dot with butter. Bake at 175°C (350°F) for about an hour and a half, until it's set, puffed and golden.