Thursday, January 4, 2007

Boilo - Yuletide drink of the Coal Region

I was reading the Drudge Retort, which is considered an attempt at countering the madness found at the Drudge Report. The Drudge Report is a political news machine. Their prime value proposition is a goal, using information and social engineering, of making medieval war behavior the New American Century's prime American cultural directive. Although many websites do just that, Drudge Report's specialty is in the rape and pillage aspects of said war-mongering. Does Iraq make more sense now? Anyway, at Drudge Retort, I found an interesting political commentary that ended with a recipe for something called Boilo.

It reminded me of my New Years Nog, and was pleased to see sensible and lavish use of spices and fruit. I repeat this recipe entirely from a most interesting site,, from the Anthracite Coal region of Pennsylvania. There we find recipes for not only Boilo, but City Chicken (not chicken) and coal candy (hard chunks of black licorice). This from there:

"City chicken: During the depression, chicken was more expensive than pork. So pork and veal were substituted for and "passed off" as chicken. The pork and veal are alternated on a wooden skewer such that it resembles a chicken leg." -

We are informed that "A really big to-do will feature both filling AND stuffing (filling is made from potatoes, stuffing from bread)."

A word of Boilo advice: the name is misleading as you do NOT want to boil this. They say: "Boilo is traditionally made during the Christmas and New Year's holiday. It's great on those cold winter nights. Beware, this can knock you for a loop! Cheers!"

Boilo recipe #1: Crock pot style

2 oranges (med-large size)
2 lemons
1 small box raisins (about 1 1/2 ounces)
8 oz honey
12 oz whiskey (or more, to taste). Use Four Roses, or Seagrams 7, or something similar. At least 80 proof (40% alcohol). I understand they use 150 proof.
1/2 to 1 teaspoon each of any or all of these spices: Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves, Caraway seed, Anise seed

Make this in a crock pot. It's easier than cooking on the stove and much less likely to overcook or scorch. For the quantities shown here, a small (1.5 quart) crock pot will do.

Peel the oranges and lemons. Cut up the fruit and squeeze them into the crock pot. A garlic press works, or you can use some kind of juicer or fruit squeezer if you have one. Put the remaining fruit pulp into the crock pot as well.

Add the raisins, honey, and spices. Stir.

NOTE: do not add whiskey yet!

Start the crock pot and let the mixture cook for about 2-4 hours. Stir occasionally. It's done when the fruit pulp gets "cooked-down".

Strain into a pitcher. Mash down the fruit in the strainer to get all the liquid. NOW add the whiskey to the pitcher and stir. If you cook the whiskey, even for a short time, the alcohol will start to evaporate (and who wants that to happen??). Taste, and add more whiskey to your liking.

Serve hot in shot glasses, espresso cups, or coffee mugs. After the first round, each individual serving can be heated in the microwave.

This recipe makes about 12 ounces of "virgin" boilo. Add 12 ounces of whiskey to this and you get 24 ounces of coal region nectar, enough for 12-18 servings.

Boilo recipe #2: Stovetop style

1 bottle whiskey (any relatively cheap, blended whiskey will do)
Several oranges. Quantity depends on how much you wish to make. Use at least 4.
Same number of lemons
1/4 cup raisins
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups of honey
2 cinnamon sticks

Peel the oranges and lemons and cut into quarters. Squeeze the fruit into a pot, then throw in the remaining fruit pulp. Add some water (some people use ginger ale). Add the remaining ingredients EXCEPT the whiskey.

Cook everything at a slow simmer, stirring constantly. This will take about 15-20 minutes. If necessary, add orange juice and a bit more water. The color should be a yellow-orange.

They have a Black and Crispy Clause: Don't overcook; the name is misleading. You don't want to boil this. Then slowly stir in the whiskey. Be careful - this can catch fire if splashed on the stove. Keep adding whiskey to taste.

It's not uncommon to use the whole bottle. (I bet it's not uncommon for there to be no reason to continue to the next steps either).

Simmer for just a few more minutes once the whiskey is added. Strain and serve hot in shot glasses (a regular glass may crack). The "No Guzzling This Is For Company Clause": Drink in sips. Individual servings (what's THAT?) can warmed later in a microwave. (XYZ says, please don't Mwave!) Everyone's recipe uses pretty much the same ingredients, but the quantities on each vary greatly. You'll have to experiment to find what suits your taste. See also a traditional Lithuanian recipe.

Boilo apparently was derived from a version of an old Lithuanian Honey Liqueur called KRUPNIKAS, which is the real deal. See next recipe.


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