The origins of eggnog are murky, as opposed to rich and creamy, but it's assumed that the holiday beverage of today can trace its roots back to an egg, milk and wine mixture enjoyed in the East Anglia region of England in the 18th century.
This concoction was adapted by American colonists using eggs, milk and rum, then called grog. After a few years, the egg-and-grog became eggnog, an ingredient Aiken chef Phillipe Chin says is well-adapted for cooking.
"It is eggs and milk and cream," he said. "Those are very basic. It's a custard, you know? The only thing that sets it apart is the nutmeg. And the booze."
Challenged to concoct recipes using eggnog, Chef Chin said the first thing he did was look at those ingredients and ways they might be traditionally used. He said it is interesting that although his own culinary roots include a lot of cream sauces, eggnog was not a Christmas quaff growing up.
"That's the thing," he said with a laugh. "In France, eggnog is not popular. Nobody drinks it. It might as well not exist."
Here's Chef Chin's take on eggnog-as-ingredient, in addition to his recipe for homemade eggnog.
Makes about 1 quart
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup brandy
1/3 cup dark rum (Captain Morgan for best flavor, but Myers is fine)
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup milk
Mix cream, milk, nutmeg, vanilla extract and sugar. Scald on low heat (do not boil). Beat the eggs for 2 or 3 minutes with an electric mixer at medium speed until very frothy. Turn the mixer off and stir in the cold rum and brandy. Chill before serving. Sprinkle individual servings with more nutmeg.
EGGNOG SWEET POTATO GRATIN
Makes 8 servings
3 medium sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
2 tablespoons marshmallow
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter an oven-safe casserole dish. Peel and slice the potatoes about 1/4 inch thick. Lay the sliced potatoes in the buttered dish. Season the eggnog mix to taste with salt and pepper. Pour eggnog mix in the dish, just covering the potatoes. Sprinkle with sliced almonds and marshmallow. Bake for 1 1/2 hours.
POACHED CHICKEN WITH EGGNOG CREAM SAUCE
1 4 1/2-6-pound chicken
1 medium onion
1 celery stalk
1-2 garlic cloves, whole
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 cup cooking broth
1/2 cup eggnog mix (without sugar)
Wash chicken under cold water and place into a large pot. Add remaining ingredients and cold water, covering the chicken. Bring to a boil over medium to high heat, reduce to simmer and cover. Skim surface of solids occasionally and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the legs move loosely or the temperature of the thigh is 175 degrees. Remove from broth, place on carving board and tent with foil. Let rest at least ten minutes, and carve just before serving. Strain broth and skim excess fat from the surface.
TO MAKE SAUCE: Place the 2 cup of broth into a small sauce pan over high heat and boil until reduced by half. Remove from heat, slowly whisk in the eggnog cream. Add salt and pepper to taste, return to stove on medium heat slowly reheat until thick, scraping pan bottom with a wood spatula -- do not boil. Spoon eggnog sauce over chicken and serve the with your choice of vegetables.
Makes 4 to 6 ample servings
MAKE 6 SERVINGS
6 graham cracker tart shells (about 3 inches)
1 tablespoon gelatin (unflavored)
2 tablespoons cold water
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
3 egg whites
1/2 cup whiskey
1/2 cup walnut
1/2 cup marshmallow to garnish
Mix cream, milk, nutmeg, vanilla extract and sugar. Scald on low heat (do not boil). Using an electric mixer to whisk egg yolks until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes on high speed). Slowly add (a small amount at a time) of scalded cream to egg mixture until all well mixed. Chill until totally cold. In a small pan put water and gelatin bring to a simmer and whisk in the egg and cream mix until well blended. Beat egg whites and salt until stiff. Fold egg whites into cream mixture. Divide into the tart shells, sprinkle walnut pieces and marshmallow.
Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or firstname.lastname@example.org.