From The New York Times Magazine, December 20, 1998. Molly O’Neill’s Food column “The Tamale Follies” was about a Mexican-American family in Glendale, California with a traditional Christmas menu of clams, shrimp with garlic, chicken tamales, salsa, and flan. So far three of the recipes have become our favorites and someday we will taste the others.
2 cups sugar
8 large eggs
2 cups milk (skim milk works)
1 cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place 1 cup of the sugar in a skillet and set over medium heat. When the sugar begins to melt, stir constantly with a fork until it is completely melted and has turned an amber color. Watch very carefully as it is easy to overdo this step! Immediately pour the melted sugar into an 8-cup ovenproof baking dish and swirl to coat the bottom and an inch or two up the sides of the dish.
Put a teakettle full of water on to boil. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs together. Whisk in the milk, half-and-half, vanilla, and the remaining cup of sugar. Strain through a sieve into the dish.
Place the dish in a roasting pan and pour the boiling water into the pan about halfway up the sides of the dish. Bake in the top third of the oven until the center of the custard is set, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool the flan for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the dish and invert the flan onto a serving plate. (There will be a fair amount of delicious caramel liquid, so choose a serving plate with a rim.) Serve warm or chilled.
Yield: 6 servings.