Recipe: Merry Christmas from the Family Homemade Eggnog

Robert Earl Keen’s classic Christmas song “Merry Christmas from the Family” (sometimes styled “Merry Christmas from the Fam-O-Lee”) features several food mentions. Champagne punch, eggnog, margaritas, bloody marys, and turkey are all mentioned outright. This eggnog recipe is part of a series of REK-inspired recipes for your next Christmas party!

The Idea

Eggnog and Christmas go together like peanut butter and jelly. Eggnog is traditionally made with raw egg yolks, but if you’re like me and the thought of that freaks you out a little bit, you’re in luck because this recipe involves cooked egg yolks! This is best served on a cold evening while watching football and digesting some smoked turkey and pie!

The Recipe

What You’ll Need:

6 large eggs (organic taste better, but that’s not necessary)
1 cup of granulated (or 1 3/4 cups of powdered) sugar
2 cups of whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups of bourbon (or rum or cognac, but it’s best with bourbon)
2 sticks of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg*
Optional: extra heavy cream and sugar to make whipped cream as a garnish. Prepackaged whipped cream works well, too.

*Do not use pre-ground nutmeg. Fresh nutmeg tastes SO MUCH BETTER and is generally both cheap and widely available. This is what I use from my local Tom Thumb grocery store. To harvest, run the nutmeg over a microplane, just as you would for lemon zest, until you have one teaspoon. If you don’t have a microplane, use the absolute finest grater you have. But you should have a microplane. They’re great for zesting citrus and grating ginger and garlic.

Directions:
  1. Separate the eggs. The yolks are all you need for the eggnog, but hold onto the whites to make meringue or to fluff up a cake or to make an eggwhite scramble.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the milk, cream, and cinnamon over medium heat until they just begin to bubble at the edges.
  3. While the milk and cream is warming, whisk your egg yolks together with the sugar until well blended.
  4. Once the milk and cream mixture begins bubbling at the edges, temper the eggs by SLOWLY whisking some of the milk/cream mixture into the eggs. It is very important to temper the egg yolks like this because otherwise the eggs will curdle and you will have a bowl of milk and cream filled with sugary scrambled egg yolks. Temper by whisking a small amount of the milk/cream mixture into the egg yolks and whisk. Repeat this process until the yolks have warmed without curdling (normally 4 or 5 times). Once the yolks have been tempered with the milk and cream, pour the entire yolk/milk/cream mixture back into what is left of the milk and cream in the saucepan. Return the mixture to medium heat.
  5. Slowly pour in the alcohol of your choice and stir gently until thickened.
  6. Once thickened, remove the cinnamon sticks and serve immediately or chill for up to 3 days in your refrigerator.

To serve, pour eggnog into lowball glasses and garnish with freshly ground nutmeg. You can also add whipped cream if you feel like it. I prefer to chill the eggnog and drink it cold, but if you like it warm you can serve it as such.

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