January 17th is the Feast of Saint Anthony the Abbot and the blessing of domestic animals. Saint Anthony the Abbot was a hermit-saint in the fourth century who died in the deserts of Egypt.
Legend has it that during his periods of prayer and fasting in the desert, his only companions were animals. It is to honor his companions that blessing domestic animals are an integral part of his feast-day. Some suggest Roasted Pork as a fitting meal, representing domestic animals and his temptation in the desert. Personally, I find eating something once prohibited (pig), while honoring domestic animals is just a little too twisted. Don’t get me wrong I love roasted pork. Just not today. I don’t have a problem with raising animals and then eating them. I just have a problem celebrating the importance of domestic animals by blessing poultry and then roasting a chicken all in one breath. So, if I can’t find inspiration for a dish by observing a Saint’s Feast Day, let’s look in another directions – say National Hot Buttered Rum Day. Yeah, that’s an observation I can get behind.
In America, hot buttered rum dates back to the Colonial Days. Sometime during the 1650s, Jamaica began exporting molasses to Colonial America. In New England, distilleries began popping up to add rum to hot beverages such as Hot Toddies and Eggnogs. It wasn’t long before Buttered Rum was all the rage. A truly old-fashioned Hot Buttered Rum needs time to simmer, to become rich and buttery and well-spiced with Cloves and Cinnamon. Back in Colonial Time, this was done in a black pot hanging over the fireplace hearth. Today we can accomplish the same thing in the bowl of a large slow-cooker.
Colonial Hot Buttered Rum
2 Cups Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Butter
1 pinch Salt
2 qts Hot Water
2 Cinnamon Sticks
6 Cloves, whole
2 cups Rum
In the bowl of a 5-quart slow cooker, combine brown sugar, butter, salt and hot water. Stir to combine.
Add whole sticks of cinnamon and whole cloves. Cover and let simmer on low for 5 hours.
Just before serving, fish the coves from the slow-cooker pot. Stir in the rum.
1 Cup Heavy Cream, whipped
2 tablespoons sugar, to sweeten whipped cream
Ground Nutmeg for dusting
Ground Cinnamon for dusting
Cinnamon Stick, optional for garnish
Star Anise, optional for garnish
About 30 minutes before serving, chill the bowl and whip of a mixer in the freezer.
Once blow has chilled well, whip heavy cream with sugar until firm peaks form. Cover bowl and set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.
To serve: Ladle buttered rum into mugs. Top with whipped cream. Dust a little fresh ground nutmeg and a pinch of cinnamon. If desired, garnish with a cinnamon stick and star anise. Serve and enjoy.