I went overboard with Thanksgiving dishes, but haven’t given the winter holidays a fair shot. So today, a festive drink with Christmas and the new year right around the corner: egg nog.
There’s about as many egg nog recipes out there as there are drinkers of egg nog. Fundamentally though, the core of the drink is the same: eggs, cream, spice, and alcohol. I, being a salmonella sissy, opted to partially cook mine (there are many recipes which entirely raw). Even though the egg white is still raw in the drink, it gives me the peace of mind that I need to just enjoy it, even if it isn’t well founded (I mean, I do enjoy other “dangerous” raw foods like sushi…). Cooking egg nog is very similar to the preparation of any other custard–its quick, easy, but requires your full attention or else you’ll just have a misshapen omelette. And of course, be forewarned about the whole raw/partially cooked egg thing, blah blah.
The drink itself is great. If you don’t already enjoy egg nog, I’m not sure if this will change things for you. It is certainly better than the stuff you get at the grocery store, but it is nonetheless egg nog, so if you’re dead certain its not your drink, I doubt this will change your life. If you’re on the fence though, come on over, the water’s fine. The drink is thick, creamy, and spiced nicely with both nutmeg and fresh vanilla and the sweet but well-integrated taste of bourbon (woo hoo!).
- 6 eggs
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1.5 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1/3 cup bourbon
- 1/2 vanilla bean
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
This makes about 6 cups.
Set out a medium-sized bowl, a large-sized bowl, and a saucepan. Break your eggs, separating the yolks into the medium bowl and the whites into the large bowl. If you can’t get a perfect separation, so be it, but do your best. Getting whites in the yolk means inevitable chunks (which you’ll strain out) and getting yolk in the whites means it won’t fluff up as much.
Now, in the saucepan, bring the milk, cream, and nutmeg up to a boil on high heat, stirring periodically. Also, slit the vanilla bean open and scrape the seeds into the cream, dropping the empty vanilla pod in as well for added vanilla flavor.
With either a stand or electric mixer, beat the egg yolks until the color changes and they look a little creamier. Once that happens, add 1/2 cup of sugar and beat some more until well mixed.
Once the cream has started to boil, remove the saucepan from heat.
Now this is where you have to really pay attention because now the eggs will be exposed to heat. The idea is to cook the eggs just enough but without denaturing them to the point of scrambled eggs. Scoop a spoon of the hot cream and stir it into the egg yolk bowl. Then, after a few seconds, do this again, mix, and do it a third time. This gets the eggs used to the heat gently (shocking it with heat will do just what you don’t want), and so now that you’ve tempered the egg yolks, pour the yolk bowl into the hot cream.
Keep on stirring and put the pan over medium heat. Within somewhere around 2-6 minutes, you will be done, so just keep stirring. Once the mixture coats the back of a spoon, get it off of the heat immediately (don’t stop to take photos for your food blog–the eggs trusted you to take care of them!).
Pour this mixture through a strainer. Don’t skip this step–some of that egg is bound to have denatured and there’s nothing more attractive than chunky egg nog. So strain it! I fished the vanilla pod out of the mix though and put it into the final mixture though just to let the flavor continue to steep into the mixture (you don’t have to do this, but I love fresh vanilla).
Once strained, transfer this mixture to the refrigerator to cool. Take a 15 minute break and a shot of bourbon. You might as well get a head start. 😉
So we’re not done yet–you still have the egg whites and the liquor. Go back to the cooked custard in the fridge (which has cooled off some) and stir in the bourbon. If you did this earlier, you would have cooked off the alcohol (which would have been tragic)! Once well mixed, go back to the egg whites.
So why didn’t we deal with the whites earlier? Picture making an omelette–what’s the first thing to cook and in a skillet? The whites. If you tried to make this delicate custard, it would be chunk city in there. So instead, we can treat these like you would in a meringue and get some extra fluff into the nog. So scoop a tablespoon of sugar into the egg whites and beat these well until soft peaks begin to form. Then, gently fold the egg whites into the egg nog in the fridge (don’t beat and mix–that will deflate the fluffiness you beat into the egg whites! Just scoop and spread, top to bottom. Fold gently. Lovingly). Once totally incorporated, cover, and let this all cool in the fridge for several hours, or better yet, a day before you have a glass.