I’m one of those people who really loves egg nog. Back home, I would buy cartons and cartons of the stuff when it was in season. I once had homemade egg nog, and I didn’t like it. I missed having egg nog last year, so this year I thought I’d figure out a good way to make it myself with what’s available in Korea.
Luckily, Alton Brown’s Good Eats recently had an episode all about egg nog. He had a raw version and a partially cooked version. I would prefer the raw version, but it required either having an electric mixer or a whisk with biceps of steel.
The most difficult part of this recipe is getting your hands on nutmeg. You can make it without nutmeg, but any egg nog afficiando will tell you that it’s the main flavoring that separates nog from melted ice cream.
And that’s basically what egg nog is: an ice cream base. And an ice cream base is a custard.
I myself have a stash of nutmeg I got sent in a care package from home. Nutmeg may also be found in a large grocery store (I have seen it at E-Mart), Hannam and the other Itaewon international markets, and the import food stalls at Namdaemun.
The partially cooked version is not (as of this moment) on their web site. So I’ll transpose how I did it based on Alton’s recipe.
In a pot, I put a pint (half a quart carton) of milk and half a teaspoon or so of nutmeg to boil. Alton’s version also used heavy cream. Heavy cream is close to impossible to find here. Besides, Alton complained that the cooked version was very thick. So why have the heavy cream if it’s too thick?
While it was heating, I separated four eggs into separate bowls, being careful that no bits of yellow got into the whites. Alton showed an easy way to do it using a slotted spoon.
To the yolks, I added 1/3 cup of sugar, or enough sugar to fill a Korean tea cup. With a whisk, I briskly stirred the sugar and yolk mixture. It helps to put the bowl over the heating milk to dissolve the sugar. I beat the yolks until they reached ribbon stage, where a string of yolk formed when lifting the whisk. It sort of looked like vanilla pudding.
Do not turn your back on the milk, or it will boil over.
As soon as the milk boils, I turned off the heat. If you immediately mixed the cold yolk mixture with the hot milk, you’d end up with scrambled eggs in milk. I added a ladle full of milk to the eggs and stirred to temper the eggs. After three or four ladles, I stirred the egg mixture into the milk.
While the milk was cooking, I washed the whisk and proceeded to whip the egg whites until they formed stiff peaks, like a merengue. After I added some beef to my arms from whipping, I stirred this into the milk mixture, put it in a pitcher, and chilled it.
Alton’s recipe calls for putting 1/3 cup of bourbon into the whole thing. I prefer to mix the alcohol by each glass. You can use many kinds of alcohol. Bourbon is the traditional American booze. But it also tastes good with dark rum, brandy, and any kind of whiskey. Right now, I’m using some cheap scotch, and it works well.