I’ve been asked by many people over the years for my homemade eggnog recipe. This year, when I am celebrating a wonderful new community and a flourishing new business, seems a good time to say thanks by sharing it with anybody who cares to read. But first, a quick diversion into where it comes from and why it’s so special to me.
I come from a long line of strong women. (For those of you wondering where I got that certain, irritating je ne sais quoi, this is it.) The photo on the left shows me at 1 1/2, sitting on my mom’s lap. My dad’s mom, Evelyn, is on the right and my great-grandmother Sarah Allie Boyd is in the center, looking at me. My great-grandmother and my grandma are gone now, and my dear mom suffers from Alzheimer’s disease so isn’t able to help me make this eggnog anymore, but they are all in my thoughts as I make it every year.
My great-grandma Allie was remarkable woman, and obviously made a hell of an impression on the family as my grandfather Boyd, my dad Boyd, my Uncle Robert Boyd, my brother Boyd, my sister Sarah, my son Andrew Boyd, my daughter Emma Allie, my niece Sarah Allie and I (Susan Allie) all carry her name.
She lived in a small Indiana town and rode her bike to give piano lessons. Her husband was firmly against drinking alcohol of any kind, so she made beer in the kitchen cabinets without his knowledge. (Even, as my father remembers, managing to keep the secret after a particularly warm night when the corks all blew, and she and my dad had to mop up 2 inches of beer before Grandpa woke up.)
Grandma Allie died when I was very young, but I’ve heard stories of her all my life. To my father, she was the surrogate mom when his own mother was preoccupied with guilt over my uncle’s diabetes and anger over my grandfather’s philandering in France during the war. She touched him with so many small kindnesses that he still tears up thinking about her. To me, she has always represented strength, intelligence, creativity, compassion, and irreverence — a combination of qualities I hope every day to carry in myself.
So now to the recipe — but first, a quick warning. THIS EGGNOG IS IN NO WAY GOOD FOR YOU, NO MATTER HOW YOU TRY TO JUSTIFY IT. It’s full of fat, sugar, liquor and — arrestingly — UNPASTEURIZED RAW EGGS. While no one in my family has every gotten ill despite over 80 years of drinking this stuff (maybe it’s because of all the liquor in it), you drink at your own risk. Make sure your hands and all utensils and storage jugs are nice and clean before you start.
So here we go! You will need:
1 and 1/2 cups of sugar
1/4 teaspoons of salt
1 quart of half & half (you can use heavy cream if you really don’t care about your arteries)
1 quart of milk
4 cups of bourbon (I use 2 cups of Canadian Club and 2 cups of Jim Beam, myself)
1 cup of rum
Beat the egg whites until stiff, then beat in 1/2 cup of sugar. Empty into a large pot. Beat the egg yolks, 1 cup of sugar and salt until very light in color. Combine with the egg whites and stir until blended. Add half & half (or cream), milk, and liquor. Stir well. Pour into gallon jug and quart jar (I use clean milk jugs).
HERE’S THE NEXT STEP, AND IT’S IMPORTANT! Store the eggnog in a cool cellar or garage for 1 week to 10 days. DO NOT REFRIGERATE!
So this is the part that freaks people out. Yes, I know — raw eggs, milk, etc., all stewing on the floor of your garage for a week without refrigeration. I’ve tried to make this and refrigerate it, and it just doesn’t turn out as well — the liquor just doesn’t blend in and become as smooth and luscious when you refrigerate it. Of course, you can try that if it makes you more comfortable, but I’ve found leaving it on the concrete floor in the garage, where it stays cool but not cold, works great. Shake it every once in a while as all the air in the eggs will condense and you can consolidate it into fewer jugs if you want.
After a week or so, stick it in the fridge, and it will last for another couple of weeks just fine. Serve it with nutmeg on top and make sure you confiscate everybody’s keys before you get going — it’s deceptively potent.
Oh, and my husband has a milk intolerance so he can’t handle much of it full-bore, but likes to mix it with 7-up for an eggnog spritzer (yuck).
There you go. Make it, drink it and enjoy. I know Grandma Allie would want you to.