Eggnog: It's not just for the punch bowl

Dec. 13, 2011 at 9:24 AM ET

Chicory eggnog custard
Chicory eggnog custard

Eggnog doesn’t usually stray from being spiked with booze and typically served at holiday parties in large crystal bowls. But chefs have taken a new look at the stuff and have incorporated it into dishes deviating from the liquid party punch. In Boston’s 606 Congress, chef Richard Garcia said he started incorporating eggnog in his winter dishes about five years ago when he made eggnog flan. “That was one of the best-selling desserts,” he says. “Eggnog is one of those forgotten, but distinct, ingredients.”

Since then, Garcia has moved up from sweets and started using eggnog in his savory dishes, including this year’s creation, a cider glazed pork belly with pumpkin gnocchi that gets coated in eggnog froth. “It’s one of the ingredients that a good chef will look at and figure out what to do,” said Garcia. “It’s no harder than any other cooking ingredient, but you really only think about it one month out of the year.”

Over at Salumeria Rosi Parmacotto in New York City, chef Cesare Casella uses eggnog in his risotto during the holiday season. He says he found that the creaminess of a properly slow-cooked risotto serves as a natural complement to the seasonal tipple, and, with the addition of nutty Parmigiano Reggiano, the dish becomes almost like the dinner version of rice pudding.

Other places have taken eggnog for a spin as well. For example, chef Bill Buszinski of Mr. Rain’s Fun House in the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore whips up a savory-sweet sauce with eggnog and pairs it with braised rabbit, grilled scallions and mashed sweet potatoes. On the dessert side, Ken Oringer of the Boston restaurant Clio does a chicory eggnog custard, chef Brandon McGlamery of Prato in Florida dishes up eggnog panna cotta, and at the Sheppard Mansion in Pennsylvania, chef Andrew Little adds eggnog to a tart along with cranberry compote.

“When you take something like eggnog, you evoke a lot of memories in people,” said Garcia. “A lot of our older guests remember their parents making it in the '40s and '50s. When people connect with their food, we feel that it gives them a deeper dining experience.” Plus, he added, “I personally think it tastes like the holidays.”

Want to find some unique uses for you holiday eggnog? Try some of these great recipes:

Chicory eggnog custard

By Ken Oringer

  • 6 eggs at room temperature
  • 6 Tbs powdered sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 pint Ponche de Santo Antao Rum or any dark rum
  • 2 pint heavy cream
  • 1 pint half and half
  • 1/2 cup chicory extract
  • 6 Tbs chicory granules
  • 5 Tbs vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbs coffee extract
  • 6 star anise, finely ground
  • Ground nutmeg to taste

Separate egg whites and egg yolks into two bowls. Pour cream, vanilla extract, chicory extract, chicory granules and star anise into a third bowl and whip until just thickened. Pour granulated sugar over egg yolks and whisk until the yolks become a light yellow color, add rum and whisk. Pour egg mixture into cream and incorporate.

Using a whisk, whip egg whites until frothy. Add powdered sugar into egg whites and whisk until medium peaks form. Add egg whites to the cream mixture and whisk until smooth and thick. Add half and half and whisk until thick. Refrigerate for at least half-an-hour before serving. Custard is a loose-style so won’t firm too much.

When serving, garnish with chicory granules and freshly ground nutmeg.

Eggnog sauce

By Bill Buszinski

  • 2 cups Milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup cugar
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1/2 cup braising liquid (from the meat or stock)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp allspice

In a large bowl combine egg yolks and sugar and beat until incorporated. Place milk in a heavy bottomed pan over low heat. Stir occasionally until milk is hot, but not boiling.

Temper egg mixture by slowly pouring hot milk into egg mixture while beating. Put back into saucepan over low-medium heat. While continually stirring with wooden spoon, add brandy, braising liquid, and all the spices.

Continue to stir until sauce thickens, but do not allow to boil. If needed, sauce can be thickened more with blonde roux.

Eggnog panna cotta

By Brandon McGlamery

  • 3 1/2 cups milk
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup cold cream
  • 2 Tbs dark rum
  • 1 Tbs powdered gelatin
  • Fresh grated nutmeg to taste

Bring 2 cups milk to a boil over medium heat. Combine yolks and sugar in a bowl and whisk until pale yellow. Temper 1 cup hot milk into yolk mixture. Return to heat and continue to cook over low heat until custard is thick and able to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and stir in remaining half cup of cold milk and cold cream. Set custard over ice bath and add rum and nutmeg. Allow mixture to cool.

Sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup of cold eggnog mixture and allow the gelatin to bloom. Place remaining eggnog mixture in medium saucepan and place over medium heat and cook until mixture just starts to steam. Remove and add gelatin mix. Divide mix into ramekins (or any small container like tea cups or tiny bowls). Refrigerate about an hour until set.

Linnea Covington is a freelancer writer and eater who will try any drink, dish, or sweet at least once, especially if it involves chili or bourbon.