Taco Tuesday just became so much more exciting.
If you have spent any considerable amount of time around this space you know that I rarely remember the small holidays. Most often I find out that it was National Pizza Day on the day itself, likely after wondering all day long why everyone on instagram has been eating pizza. I usually remember St. Patrick's Day on March 16th, and well, Cinco de Mayo? I'll happily join you for tacos if you invite me, but there's little chance that I will have given the holiday any thought.
This year, however, I am prepared.
Here I am, ready to pour you a glass of horchata - the loveliest, milky beverage that is just the compliment those tacos are begging for.
I was never a milk-drinker as a child, and while these days I will welcome a chilled glass with my warm cookies, it will never be my beverage of choice. Horchata on the other hand, I will grab with both hands and beg you for a refill. It strikes the perfect balance of sweet, refreshing, and faintly creamy.
Horchata really is the perfect drink when you are planning on downing a tray or two of nachos because the inclusion of milk helps cut through the fiery powers of capsaicin - the component that makes chili peppers spicy.
Milk has always been a far better tonic for a burning tongue than water, but who wants to drink milk with enchiladas? Not me. Horchata is the answer.
So...what is horchata? Horchata is a beverage that can be made with a variety of grains, but this particular version is rice-based.
Long-grain white rice, such as Jasmine, is blended up with a cinnamon stick and soaked in water for a couple of hours. It is then blended again, but this time with a bit of sugar. Finally, it is strained, creating a faintly milky concoction with the slightest hint of cinnamon. I like mine on the creamier side, so I stir in a bit of whole milk and a splash of coconut milk because I just love that nutty flavor.
Looking at the ratios, you might expect this to be on the watery side, but the starch from the rice gives it a lovely, even creaminess that is so refreshing.
Oh if only all milk tasted like this...
...I would need bigger jeans.
Coconut Milk Horchata
yields 6-8 servings / recipe adapted from Aaron Sanchez
- 1 cup long-grain white rice, such as jasmine
- 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half (plus extra for garnish, if desired)
- 6 cups filtered water, divided
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cook's Note: While Mexican cinnamon would be ideal here, any good quality cinnamon, such as ceylon, will suffice.
In the base of your blender, combine rice, cinnamon stick pieces, and 4 cups filtered water. Blend on high speed until the rice and cinnamon are in fine pieces; about a minute.
Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in remaining 2 cups of water. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit at room temperature for 3 hours.
Return the rice mixture to your blender and add granulated sugar. (Depending on the size of your blender, you may have to work in batches.) Blend until smooth. Strain the blended rice mixture through a fine mesh sieve set over a large pitcher. Stir in whole milk, coconut milk, and vanilla extract. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Stir the horchata well before serving. Serve over iced-filled glasses and garnish with a cinnamon stick and a sprinkling of ground cinnamon, if desired. Enjoy!