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Italian Rice Pie

This Italian rice pie (torta di riso) has been an Easter staple in my family for generations. Though it traditionally graces the dessert table on Easter Sunday, the best time to eat it is Monday morning. After being refrigerated overnight, it is pleasantly chilled and tastes like a cross between rich ricotta pie and silky lemon panna cotta, an Italian cooked cream. The best rice pies are made from starchy rice such as Arborio, an Italian rice used for risotto. Arborio's thick, chewy texture creates a firm, dense layer of cooked rice that contrasts beautifully with the creamy, soft custard on top. Whatever you do, don't use Uncle Ben's or instant rice, or you'll wind up with watery pie. You can cook the rice in either water or whole milk. Milk makes it slightly thicker and creamier. Please note that this recipe requires beginning at least a few hours in advance.

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