Punch à la Romaine
Contrary to its name, Punch à la Romaine is not a punch as we know it, but a European-style frozen lemonade mixed with rum, Champagne, and Italian meringue. It was a popular treat served at the turn of the century, often as a palate cleanser before the main roast course. Our version uses funky rhum agricole, and puts the fluffy egg whites on top for a pretty garnish; we like it as a bright, light Christmas dessert, or a chilly treat for the middle of summer. We recommend reviewing how to open a Champagne bottle before you begin.
What to buy: Rhum agricole blanc is a rum distilled in the French West Indies, and its unique flavor is derived from sugarcane juice rather than molasses.
- 1 medium navel orange
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- Finely grated zest of 1 medium lemon (about 2 teaspoons)
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 4 medium lemons)
- 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 3 ounces Champagne or sparkling wine, chilled
- 1 1/2 ounces rhum agricole blanc, chilled
1Finely zest the orange (you should have about 1 tablespoon); set aside.
2Slice 1/4 inch off the top and bottom of the orange and set it flat on a work surface. Using a paring knife, follow the curve of the orange and slice off any remaining peel and white pith. Working over a small bowl, slice between the membranes to release the segments or supremes. (Chef Michael Symon demonstrates how to segment citrus in this CHOW Tip video.) Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
3Place the water and sugar in a small saucepan over high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest, orange zest, and lemon juice. Let sit at room temperature until the flavors infuse, about 30 minutes.
4Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a 13-by-9-inch dish and discard the contents of the strainer. Freeze the mixture uncovered until just starting to set but not frozen completely, about 1 hour. Using the tines of a fork, rake through the mixture to break up any large chunks. Return to the freezer and rake again when thoroughly set, about 1 hour more. Transfer the lemon ice to a container with a tightfitting lid and store in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.
5When ready to serve, place the egg whites in a very clean medium bowl and whisk until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes; set aside.
6Transfer the lemon ice to a large bowl. Drizzle in the Champagne and rhum agricole and stir gently to combine. Divide among 8 (1/2-cup) glasses. Divide the whipped egg whites over the lemon ice and top each serving with an orange segment. Serve immediately.
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