While I claim to be proud of my Southern roots, it seems that I rarely post about truly Southern cuisine. However, every now and then I'll feature something that's foreign to my friends outside the southern chunk of the US, and I suspect this one may fall into that category.
Imagine, if you will, the melted vanilla ice cream that's left in your bowl after about 10 minutes of sitting out. Do you turn up the bowl and drink it? Do you love it? Boiled custard is kinda like that, but even thicker and even more flavorful and satisfying.
Custard isn't something you want to be drinking every day; it's more of a special occasion treat. My grandma used to make it every Christmas and we all got so excited about it. She doesn't go to the trouble anymore, and since I can attest that the store-bought version that we tried one year doesn't hold a candle, I thought I'd make a batch and surprise her with it.
Custard is pretty easy to make, but it does require patience. If things go awry, they go horribly awry--smooth, luscious, thick custard just isn't the same with bits of cooked egg floating around in it. If that happens, I think a simple straining at the end of the process would be a good idea.
|Incidentally, I'm not a glutton--this is a wee, half-cup jar glass. :)|
If you want to get fancy, you can skip the vanilla extract and cook the milk with a vanilla bean and the seeds you've scraped from it. If you choose to do this, it's probably a good idea to strain the custard regardless of the presence or absence of scrambled eggs.
One more thing--you might see some recipes that include flour in the ingredients. I do NOT recommend this unless you intend to use the custard as some sort of sauce. There's thick, and then there's THICK.
This may not be everyone's cup of tea--it definitely coats your mouth with its thick richness and some people might not be into that. If you do like decadent things, though, give it a try! It might become a new tradition for you!
Copied exactly from my Granny Frannie
- 1/2 gallon (8 cups) milk (or half-and-half, if you really want to spoil yourself)
- 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
- 7 large egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
Pour the milk into a large pot (some insist on using a double boiler, but I haven't found it necessary) and whisk in 1/3 cup granulated sugar. Cook over medium heat until a thin skin forms on the top--do not boil.
Meanwhile, whisk together the remaining sugar and the egg yolks until well-blended and pale yellow in color.
When the skin has formed on the milk, remove it from the heat and scoop out about a cup and pour it into the bowl with the yolks and sugar. Whisk to combine, then add another cup of milk and mix it in. Now that the eggs are tempered, pour that mixture into the pot of milk and whisk until fully combined.
Return the pot to the heat and cook the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until it coats the back of a wooden spoon. This will take around 20-25 minutes. Once you've achieved the proper thickness, remove the pot from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Let the custard cool in the pot for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, then pour it into a two quart jars or whatever container you have on hand. Keep refrigerated! Some people drink this warm, but I like it best when it's well-chilled. (Talk about gilding the lily--when we had this at Christmas, many members of my family would opt to add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to their cup of custard! Oh, the decadence!)