When reader Dana K. was a child, her family would pile into their station wagon for Sunday dinner with her grandparents, Ethel and Al Mann of New Castle, Pennsylvania. It was, as she recalls, dinner in the great American tradition: roast beef and potatoes, a pile of green beans on the side. And for dessert? "It was always the same," says Dana: Grandma's rice pudding and Grandpa Al quipping, without fail, "It's just not Sunday without puddin'."
Heat the oven to 350ºF.
Put the rice, butter, and salt in a shallow 2-quart baking dish.
Boil 2 cups of water and pour it into the dish, stirring until the butter melts.
Put the mixture in the oven and cook uncovered for 30 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed, stirring once or twice as it cooks.
Whisk the egg in a medium-size mixing bowl until frothy. Blend in the warm milk and pour the mixture into the pudding. Add the sugar and raisins, stirring well.
Sprinkle the pudding with cinnamon or nutmeg and bake it for 35 to 40 minutes, until almost all of the liquid is absorbed. A little remaining liquid is fine because it will soak into the rice as the pudding cools.
Serve lukewarm, at room temperature, or chilled. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Note: to get a nice golden crust on the pudding, move it up to a higher oven shelf for the second round of baking.