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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Ahhh, Limoncello

I happened to catch Danny DeVito's drunken rant on The View when it happened (not that I watch the show or anything, really. Really...) and thought it was great live television. But I think the best part of the appearance was when he mention that he did seven shots of Limoncello with George Clooney the night before. That alone has given the Italian drink it's biggest exposure yet here in the U.S. .

I fisrt discovered Limoncello watching Mario Batali on Food Network giving a tour of a liqueur plant in Italy making the stuff and I was fasinated, being a fan of lemon slushies, of course. Then one day after being invited to my friends Jeff and Tina's for dinner, I was offered a glass of the drink they had picked up from their visit to Tuscany. After one sip, I was hooked on the stuff. If you've had it before, you know what I'm talking about. However, buying a bottle can be expensive since it's mosty imported. However, leave it to little ol' me to find a recipe on how to make your own, courtesy of What's Cooking America. Yes it's a summer drink, but it also goes great in hot teas during winter.

15 lemons*
2 (750 ml) 100-proof vodka**
4 cups sugar 5 cups water
* Choose thick-skinned lemons because they are easier to zest.
** Use 100-proof vodka, which has less flavor than a lower proof one. Also the high alcohol level will ensure that the limoncello will not turn to ice in the freezer.

Wash the lemons with a vegetable brush and hot water to remove any reside of pesticides or wax; pat the lemons dry.
Carefully zest the lemons with a zester or vegetable peeler so there is no white pith on the peel. NOTE: Use only the outer part of the rind. The pith, the white part underneath the rind, is too bitter and would spoil your limoncello. Check out my web page on How to Zest.

Step One: In a large glass jar (1-gallon jar), add one bottle of vodka; add the lemon zest as it is zested. Cover the jar and let sit at room temperature for at least (10) ten days and up to (40) days in a cool dark place. The longer it rests, the better the taste will be. (There is no need to stir - all you have to do is wait.) As the limoncello sits, the vodka slowly take on the flavor and rich yellow color of the lemon zest.
Step Two: In a large saucepan, combine the sugar and water; cook until thickened, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Let the syrup cool before adding it to the Limoncello mixture. Add to the Limoncello mixture from Step One. Add the additional bottle of vodka. Allow to rest for another 10 to 40 days.
Step Three: After the rest period, strain and bottle: discarding the lemon zest. Keep in the freezer until ready to serve.

EIGHTY DAYS? Damn. Well if I start now, it'll be near March when it's done. If I keep it in the freezer for at least two months and resist temptation, it's perfect for the summertime. Oh, and don't expect too many recipes for anything from me. This was a once in a while deal, and I've been busy and needed to fill.

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