Anyone who grew up in the Midwest going to church or community potluck suppers no doubt has a sweet memory of glorified rice. There’s almost no more comforting comfort food, with its creamy whipped cream or marshmallow-fluffed texture and fruity layers of flavor that transform plain rice into a dessert worth remembering. As with most home recipes, there’s really no one way to prepare glorified rice. The only common ingredients are rice, cream, and canned fruit.
Culinary historians point to the resourceful Scandinavians of the Midwest for creating such a lovely bunch of fluff. More traditional recipes require canned crushed pineapple and the red kisses of maraschino cherries from a jar. Even cooks working from their grandmothers’ recipes, however, will trade words regarding whether the cream should be heavy or not or whipped or cooked with sugar.
Most glorified rice recipes insist upon fruit that is less fruit and more canned, sugary deliciousness. Real bananas are acceptable to purists, and some will even allow a few slices of fresh mango or kiwi because those fruits are hard to find in a can. Perhaps a sprinkling of toasted coconut would be allowed, but woe to any cook who tries to pass off a glorified rice dessert that doesn’t contain either crushed pineapple, mandarin oranges, or fruit cocktail to a bunch of traditionalists.
Cooks who live by the expression "fat and happy" claim that, in the best glorified rice, the rice itself should first be cooked in cream or at least a cream and milk mixture. This method yields rice that is tongue-meltingly, heartbreakingly delicious. These cooks are likely to toss in a handful of mini marshmallows just to make sure all the bases are covered in terms of calories.
Home cooks who aim to please but also aim to live a little longer have found all kinds of healthy substitutions for the fat, fat, and a little more fat plus sugar found in the traditional rice dessert. They’ve found that brown rice or spring or winter wheat make a fiber-rich and chewy white rice replacement. Instead of cooking the rice in cream, skim milk will do, especially if a little sugar-free almond milk is added toward the end. These cooks don’t care a fig for the way things used to be done. In place of canned, sugary fruits they use the real thing, adding walnuts for crunch.