It doesn't take Roland Rubalcava of Rubalcava's in Placentia very long to make horchata, that famous Mexican agua fresca of rice, evaporated milk, cinnamon and little else. There are only five ingredients, and the most time-consuming aspect of the preparation is just soaking, which obviously requires no effort on anyone's part. “It's weird though,” he says amidst throwing together a magnificent-looking burrito for a customer, “I would say that most Mexican restaurants don't have real horchata.”
He qualifies the reason being that it takes about 24 hours to have a batch, but he's just trying to be nice. “The majority of horchatas you buy are just made with syrup that's been diluted with water. It's all sugar!” That's not to say that honest-to-goodness homemade horchata doesn't have sugar (it most definitely does), but its sweetness is natural and light. Roland also points out that it's incredibly inexpensive and can be paired with many meals. “Mexicans drink it with almost anything,” he says, “you can have it hot or cold, and all day long.”
Once the granules of rice and hints of cinnamon from real horchata cleanse your palate, drinking it on the reg makes a lot more sense. It's just damn tasty and so simple to create.
Step 1: Soaking
To make around one gallon of horchata you'll need two cups of long grain rice and one Mexican cinnamon stick. Grab any clean vessel that can hold a gallon of water, fill her up with filtered water, and then add the rice and cinnamon.
And that's it! Cover up the mixture and let it soak overnight on your counter.
Step 2: Blending
After letting things get all cinnamon-y, it's time to mix it up. Begin by adding two ounces of vanilla extract into your water and then stirring it up. You'll then put the mixture into the blender. Roland says that you should split the gallon between three blending sessions to ensure that all the rice is pulverized.
After each blending, strain out the rice and cinnamon with a fine, mesh strainer. Roland says that you can use cheesecloth but he likes a little bit of rice grit in his horchata.
Step 3: Milk and Sugar
After blending and straining you should have a little less than a gallon of sweet water. Now you will add a quart of evaporated milk and two to three cups of sugar. “I like it a little extra sweet because when you add ice it dilutes the flavor,” Roland says. Of course, you can make it as sweet or not sweet as you desire. Try adding a little bit of sugar, mixing, and then tasting.
Step 4: Presentation and Storage
Put your vessel into the fridge and let it cool for a couple of hours before serving. It will settle while sitting, so make sure to stir it before you pour a glass (which will be a lot). It's best to pour it over a full glass of ice. If you'd like to try it hot, heating it in a sauce pan will do the trick. As long as the drink is stored in the fridge, it will keep for up to a week.
If plain ol' horchata and ice isn't cutting it for you, you can try adding strawberries and other fruits to the blender, and then dressing the final product up with a dash of cinnamon. Adding alcohol is never a bad idea either! “I love it that way!” Roland laughs, “And I've got a couple drink specials in mind, but nothing I'll reveal here.”
If you're still too lazy to make your own, head to Rubalcava's in Placentia where they mix up this exact recipe every other day. No rum in your horchata in that case, though.