Through my travels, I’ve determined that there are two kinds of people in this world: those obsessed with cilantro and those that despise it like a telemarketer. No stops in between.
There are actual ‘hate’ groups that band together to discuss their mutual disgust for cilantro. No other herb sprouts such controversy. There have been no tarragon protests, no rosemary sit-ins. I just don’t get it.
I, however, am totally smitten. Cilantro has a fresh, bright flavor that can be used with a lot more flexibility than other herbs. As of late, I’ve particularly fancied adding whole leaves to salads and sandwiches. Then of course, a pile of the stuff tops every taco. Korean barbecue, Thai noodles, Vietnamese Pho. I’ve even put it in a vase with flowers, because the aroma is just that intoxicating. It’s versatility reaches quite far.
Which is why it seemed like adding it to ice cream was a natural progression. Yes, ice cream. This ice cream is the kind you eat a pint of in one sitting. So if you are one of the many with a cilantro ‘allergy’, come to the dark side. It takes SOOO good.
Cilantro Ice Cream Recipe
(makes 1 quart)
1/2 quart whole milk
1/2 quart heavy cream
1 c (200g) granulated sugar
8 egg yolks (160g)
3 large handfuls fresh cilantro
pinch of salt
Tools Worth Mentioning
Ice Cream Machine (well, duh)
In a medium pot, heat milk and cream on medium heat until it begins to simmer around edges. Stir frequently to prevent the milk from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Whisk together sugar and yolks in a heat-proof bowl until smooth, creamy and pale yellow. Once milk is hot, pour half of the milk mixture into the bowl and whisk quickly until the egg and sugar have been completely incorporated into the milk.
The purpose of this is to bring the eggs to the same temperature as the hot milk without scrambling them. Because Scrambled Egg ice cream would be gross, now wouldn’t it. This process is called ‘tempering’, which in a nut shell means cooling or heating something to the temperature that suits your needs.
So, add the egg/sugar/milk mixture back into the pot. Gently stir the liquid with a wooden spoon until it thickens. We are looking for a cream sauce consistency. And don’t walk away from it, or you’ll quickly find out what I meant by Scrambled Egg ice cream. My go-to trick for determining ‘doneness’ is this: Dip the wooden spoon in the liquid and pull it out. Then, run your finger down the middle of the back of the spoon. If your ‘line’ holds without the liquid running, then it is ready.
Immediately pull the pot off the heat, stir in salt and strain into a bowl. Yes, strain. Most of the time you’ll get some specs of lingering egg white, so best to strain all of that out for a beautifully creamy ice cream. Call it insurance.
Let cool on the counter, stirring occasionally to let off the heat faster. Alternatively, you can set the bowl on top of a bowl of ice water. With this ice cream, there is reason to speed up the process. Once cool, combine 1 1/2 c of the ice cream base and cilantro in a food processor or blender. Blend until cilantro is pureed. Strain this mixture and add back to the rest of the base, and stir to combine.
Spin the ice cream according to the directions that came with your particular ice cream maker and enjoy my friends!