11 December 2011

World’s Best Recipe for Seasonal Hen’s Milk

Lait de poule (“hen’s milk”) is a charming traditional recipe dating back to medieval times. It makes an appearance in Madame Bovary, which just proves that it’s French, no matter what the English and the North Americans say. I am prepared to concede nevertheless that it wasn’t the French who made lait de poule a holiday favorite around Christmastime, under the curious and rather unattractive, decidedly Saxon-sounding name of “eggnog.”

When you are, as I am so often, stuck in your charming country kitchen in the middle of France, you will want to enjoy many holiday treats that remind you of your homeland. So why not put on an album of Christmas carols, that red-and-green sweater your mother gave you last year, and join me in preparing a big bowl of hen’s milk to share with all the friends and relations who would surely be clustering around you this time of year, if only you lived a few thousand miles closer?

Sure, hen’s milk is high in calories, but so what?
The holidays are stressful, even in France.
We can all use a little Christmas cheer.
  1. Locate a punch bowl. Since most charming kitchens in the French countryside do not actually keep a traditional punch bowl, be prepared to use a soup tureen instead.

  2. Purchase 12 eggs from your local dairymonger. Ideally, these should be from free-range, college-educated, and left-handed hens.

  3. Separate the eggs, reminding yourself how easy Jacques Pépin makes this look. Pour the yolks, and absolutely no eggshell, into your bowl.

  4. That tureen is quite large, isn’t it? You’d better make sure you have enough alcohol to make hen’s milk correctly. You wouldn’t want to disappoint the French! Check the cupboard for cognac, whiskey, rum, or, if supplies are low, any combination of the three. Do not use Armagnac, however, because that’s just wrong.

  5. I don’t know. It just is.

  6. Mix the yolks with a cup and a half of sugar. Because a “cup” is not a European measure, use a real cup, because it’s Christmas, dammit, and you can’t be bothered to look up the metric equivalents. That coffee mug Karen gave you should do just fine.

  7. Continue to mix the yolks and the sugar until they take on the color and consistency of butter. This may take a while, so pour yourself a shot of alcohol. I’m using rum for this recipe.

  8. Keep mixing.

  9. Did you know that Cuban rum is legal in France and actually quite easy to obtain?

  10. Keep mixing. Does it look right yet?

  11. This would be a lot easier if you had an electric mixer in your charming kitchen in the French countryside. Keep mixing.

  12. Have a little more rum.

  13. Oh, right, don’t forget to mix in some rum, too. About two cups, if you’ve still got that much. And some vanilla extract.

  14. At this point, you can chill the mixture until about half an hour before your guests arrive.

  15. Have some more rum — rum-pa-pum-pum. Get it? I love this song. Tu connais?

  16. This reminds me of the funniest thing that happened, one Christmas when I was a kid, back in Texas, which is the greatest state of all.

  17. Are our guests running late or something?

  18. And you know, when I say le plus grand, I don’t just mean “great” like magnifique. I mean grand like “big.” Texas is bigger than France.

  19. You could fit all of France inside Texas, and still have rum left over.

  20. Have some more rum.

  21. I’m just kidding — I love France! No, really. I love all of you guys.

  22. So mulch.

  23. That said, we did save your asses, you know. Two wars, bébé. Count ’em. Deux.

  24. Okay, look, I think it’s time to put in the milk. And also the cream.

  25. This rum is pretty tasty, when you think about it. Is there more?

  26. Oh! Right. Like six cups of milk or cream. Whatever.

  27. I don’t know. Just don’t say anything. They’re French. They won’t care.

  28. They never cared about me. Nobody ever cared about me, when you think about it.

  29. Will you get off my goddam back already? You think it’s easy, cooking for French people? Tu trouves que c’est facile, hein? Hein?

  30. You know, it’s very difficult to say that in French. Rhum. Rhum.

  31. I’m telling you. You want a piece of me? Je t’écrase.

  32. I mean it. I’ll cut you, man. I mean it. I’m standing right here in my country kitchen in the charming Frenchyside, and I’ve got a knife.

  33. I don’t have a mixer, but I’ve got a comment est-ce que ça se dit? A couteau, man.

  34. Bullets cannot harm me.

  35. No, really, I really love you guys.

  36. So mush.

  37. Well, bon soir. I didn’t hear vous entrez. Why don’t vous step into my living rum and have a nice little, charming little punch glass of … oh, merde, there’s supposed to be nutmeg in this shit.

  38. Pardonnez mon français.

  39. Or else some cinna — cinna — voulez-vous some rum instead?

  40. Rhum.

  41. What do you mean, “There isn’t any more”?

  42. Is it New Year’s yet? I’m a little sleepy. Just gonna curl up here for a little bit of siesta. Buenos noches.


TGaskins said...

The Texans saved the French...twice? Martha Stewart says to add bourbon, cognac and dark rum, but she doesn't live in France and probably can't get Cuban rum. Clearly, she wouldn't need those others, if only her rum came from Cuba.

Your eggnog...uh, I mean, uh...lait de poulet sounds delicious.

strangeshe said...

What a coincidence! That is my exact recipe, too! Love you so mush.