In a heavy bottomed, 3 quart sauce pan, combine the milk, water, sugar, cinnamon stick and rice. Stir to combine.
4½ cups whole milk, 1½ cups water, ¾ cup granulated sugar, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 cup Arborio rice
Bring to an intense simmer (just below boiling) over medium high heat, stirring often. Reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer and continue cooking, stirring often until the rice is tender, about 35 to 45 minutes. Some liquid will remain. The mixture should have the consistency of a thin oatmeal but will continue to thicken as it cools.
Remove from heat and remove the cinnamon stick. Stir in the vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract and raisins, if using.
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, ⅔ cup golden raisins
Spoon the rice pudding into individual ramekins or small containers OR transfer to a large serving dish. Let the pudding cool slightly before serving or let cool to room temperature, cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 1 day in advance.
Just before serving, top with freshly grated cinnamon or ground cinnamon. Pudding can be enjoyed warm or cooled.
1 cinnamon stick