Come on in. Cider’s on the stove. Eggnog’s in the fridge. Bourbon’s on the bar.

LOCAVORE’S DELIGHT: The Series #27. Follow us as we explore the bounty of our region’s farms.

“I count myself in nothing else so happy as in a soul remembering my good friends.” The Shakespeare quote on the early 1900s holiday card is from the North Carolina Digital Archives.

It started with a European tradition: Carolling. The American version of carolling today is visiting. Visiting your family, visiting your neighbors — nurturing a community spirit.

The idea of hospitality is that you always have something ready, either on the stove or in the fridge when people come to visit.

Around this time of year, whether it’s Christmas Eve, or a cold winter’s night, that holiday beverage is eggnog.

In the British tradition it’s called Wassail. Caroling is also known as Wassailing, or “Waes Hail,” which literally means “good health.” The beverage wassail is a winter beer spiked with brandy. Glögg is a spiced wine spiked with neutral spirits like aquavit.

Gather together some friends at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen for a holiday eggnog treat, paired with the Bourbon Pecan Bar on our seasonal menu, Winter of our Heart’s Content: November 14, 2012–January 1, 2013

Perhaps a bit more Presbyterian would be apple cider. Apples are harvested in the fall and apples deemed not intact enough for storage get crushed into cider; a very Colonial American drink.

When gently heated, the flavors of apple juice blend well with those autumnal spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, cardamom, allspice, much like the spices that go into Chai. They’re also the same spices in eggnog.

If you follow an eggnog recipe—one in a Better Homes and Gardens or the Martha Stewart cookbook—you’ll end up making a thin custard that’s flavored with bourbon or brandy. You’re better off having one here, though, at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen. We use Homeland Creamery’s Eggnog. And offer you the choice of adding some zip to it.

Eggnog at the restaurant

This is our third year with eggnog at the restaurant. Our Homeland Creamery tradition started four years ago when we first started working with the local dairy based in Julian, North Carolina.

We first started using their milk and buttermilk, and then we started using their heavy cream, and then their ice cream. In the fall we did a sweet potato pie paired with their Butter Pecan ice cream. We were bowled over by their Butter Pecan ice cream. We loved it.

Loved it so much we wanted to do something else. At the time, we were talking about what kind of ice cream flavors they make when Terri Bowman told us about their eggnog, then she gave us some to try.

We’re serious, it will knock you out of your socks. It’s rich, viscous and velvety.

New uses for eggnog:

Serve it like a dessert

You could offer black coffee, or Kahlua after dinner all year long, but at this time of year spiced eggnog is a treat. If you’re eating savory things, eggnog should go later with dessert, not first. Eggnog coats your palette and will ruin the flavor of a lot of things if it’s not followed by something sharp.

Serve it at breakfast

During the winter, my kids have eggnog with their breakfast instead of milk. Breakfast doesn’t have a progression; it doesn’t go light, savory, spicy. It’s usually all on the plate, and so a little eggnog puts a some pep in your step.

  • Float a little eggnog on top of your oatmeal
  • Finish your rice pudding with eggnog instead of fresh cream
  • Substitute a glass of eggnog for milk for a special winter treat

At Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen

We serve eggnog with our Bourbon Pecan Bars, which is essentially a reinvented Pecan Pie. I find that Pecan Pie is too sweet for me, especially with that gooey, corn syrupy center, and I don’t like how it oozes out when you cut it. If you’re serving it at a restaurant, you might serve a whole pie over the course of the evening and by the time you get to those last two slices pie, the good stuff is all gooey-ed out.

So I decided to solve that problem and to resolve it with my personal predilections, I could double the crust recipe make it like a cookie dough and decreased the filling by half. What you get is like a shortbread cookie topped with a small amount of pecan pie filling. We then mix up  a bourbon-spiked royale icing to drizzle over it. To me, it’s fantastic with eggnog.

Bourbon up

My two favorite Bourbons to enjoy in eggnog are probably Elijah Craig 12yr and Old Weller Antique 107 – great stuff that won’t set you back at much as other labels with marketing campaigns.

Southern Comfort and Sailor Jerry are wonderful as add-ins. I’d say four ounces of eggnog can use between a splash of liquor and a solid two ounces.

Everyone has their own preferences for mixed drinks, you should know whether you like them stiff or “graced” by a touch of spirit.

Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen Bourbon Pecan Bars

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 ½ sticks butter – very cold, grated
  • 9 each eggs
  • 1 1/8 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 1/8 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 ½ cups Karo syrup
  • 2 ½ tbsp bourbon
  • 2 cups pecan pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in 1 cup brown sugar. Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cut in butter until mixture looks like cornmeal. Pan spray a sheet tray and pat the mixture evenly into the bottom of the tray. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Meanwhile beat eggs until well mixed but not light. Add sugar, flour, and salt. Add syrup and bourbon. Mix well. Pour syrup mixture over prebaked crust and then sprinkle pecans over. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes. Allow dough to cool and cut into 12 portions. Drizzle bourbon icing over the top.

Makes – 12 portions

Bourbon Icing

  • ¼ cup butter – softened
  • 2 cups 10x sugar
  • 3 tbsp bourbon
  • ½ cup whole milk

Whisk together bourbon and butter. Add in small amounts of powdered sugar and milk, alternating until all is incorporated.

Makes – 14 fluid ounces

For more about our seasonal recipes, see our current menu at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen and our Blog Recipe Index:

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