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Issue 18 - A match made in heaven

Scotland Magazine Issue 18
January 2005

 

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A match made in heaven

More and more people are discovering that whisky goes well with food. There are some lovely combinations. Sue Lawrence reports

The very prospect of drinking only whisky with dinner is alien to most people. At Burns Suppers it is something that is often done (and I must say often with dire consequences, since the same whisky is often glugged down with everything from soup and haggis to cheese and pudding!) But in fact, having particular malts selected to go with each specific dish is a revelation.

I thoroughly recommend holding a whisky dinner, if only to convince those who confess to not liking Scotland’s finest drink that, taken with food, it is a whole different ball-game. Broad guidelines such as avoiding vinegary or acidic dishes should be adhered to. It is also obvious that to serve a wine-rich dish such as coq au vin or boeuf bourguignon is not only a complete clash of fundamental tastes (grape and grain), it is a waste of good wine and good whisky.

There are some flavour matches that might surprise you, so take a look below at some particularly fine pairings. And don’t forget – never serve in small sherry-style glasses: large wine glasses are perfect to bring out the full bouquet of malt whisky. Just remember to pour only the tiniest amount in each glass. And to have plenty of still water on the side.

CHEDDAR SHORTBREAD (SERVED AS CANAPE)

Whisky suggestion: 10 year old Glengoyne (or Compass Box Asyla); the Glengoyne, with its slightly stronger flavour matches the Cheddar well.

150g / 51/2 oz plain flour, sifted
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
125g / 41/2 oz butter, softened
125g / 41/2 oz mature Cheddar, finely grated

1. Place everything in a food processor with 1/4 tsp salt and process briefly until just combined.

2. Then tip into a buttered 23cm/9 in square baking tin and press down all over to level the surface. Prick all over with a fork then bake in a
preheated oven (150ºC/300ºF/Gas 2) for about 35 minutes or until pale golden brown all over.

3. Cut into squares or rectangles while hot, leave in the tin for 5-10 minutes then decant to wire rack to become cold.

MUSHROOM RISOTTO WITH BLACK PUDDING

Whisky suggestion: 10 year old Balvenie is best as its harshness cuts through the richness of black pudding; but a 15 year old Longmorn also works well.

Approx. 900 ml / 30 fl oz chicken stock
50g / 13/4 oz butter
1 small onion, peeled, chopped
100 ml / 31/2 fl oz dry white wine
300g / 101/2 oz arborio (risotto) rice
2 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
2 tbsp olive oil
6 slices black (blood sausage) pudding
200g / 7 oz button / chestnut mushrooms, sliced

1. Bring the stock to a simmer, keep hot.

2. Heat 25g butter in a large pan, cook the onion until soft. Add the rice, stir until coated then add the wine; cooking until evaporated. Add the hot stock ladle by ladle, stirring, only adding another ladle once it has been absorbed. You may not need all the stock; it should take 18–20 minutes til the rice is al dente. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the parmesan then remaining butter. Cover, leave to stand for 5 minutes then stir in the parsley and taste for seasoning.

3. While it is left to stand, heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan and cook the black pudding till crisp on the outside, soft inside. Place on a dish to keep warm. Add another tbsp oil to the pan, fry the mushrooms then remove with a slotted spoon.

4. To serve, ladle some risotto into warm shallow bowls. Top each with some mushooms then a slice of black pudding.

SALMON WITH MINT PESTO

Whisky suggestion: 14 year old Clynelish with its coastal influence works well here; a 10 year old Ardbeg with its powerful Islay peatiness rather overpowers the salmon.

You can use trout instead of salmon if you prefer. I use a whole side, all trimmed and pin bones removed but you can use steaks too. You
shouldn’t need to alter the cooking time as it is not length of fish but thickness that determines cooking time.

Small side of salmon or wild sea trout
60g / 21/2 on mint leaves
2 fat garlic cloves, peeled, chopped
60g / 21/2 oz whole almonds
25g / 1 oz freshly grated parmesan
extra-virgin olive oil
25g / 1 oz fresh breadcrumbs

1. Ensure the fish is at room temperature and place, skin-side down, on an oiled baking sheet.

2. Combine the mint, garlic, nuts and cheese in a food processor then add enough oil to form a smooth paste: about 6 tbsp. Season to taste with salt and pepper then stir in the breadcrumbs.

3. Spread over the salmon – not too thick but just enough to form a crust; you might have some left over .

4. Bake in a preheated oven (200ºC/ 400ºF /Gas 6) for 8-10 minutes or until the fish is just cooked.

BANANA ICE-CREAM WITH HOT CHOCOLATE AND CARDAMOM SAUCE

Whisky suggestion: Frozen 15 year old Dalwhinnie is perfect with its full-on flavour though a fresh aromatic 12 year old Glen Elgin is also good. Place the bottle in the freezer at lunchtime and serve straight from the freezer.

6 large ripe bananas
150 ml / 5 fl oz whipping cream
200g / 7 oz crème fraiche
the grated zest of 1 lime and
juice of 2 limes

1. Place the whole unpeeled bananas in the freezer for at least 6 hours then remove. Leave 15–20 minutes then peel with a sharp knife and chop into chunks.

2. Place these in a blender with the remaining ingredients the process until thick and creamy. Return to freezer to firm up a little before serving with the sauce.

SAUCE

100g / 31/2 oz quality dark chocolate, chopped
150ml / 5 fl oz whipping cream
15g / 3/4 oz unsalted butter
7 – 8 cardamom pods, sees removed and crushed: about 1 tsp)

1. Place the chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and stir frequently.

2. Once melted, add the butter and cardamom, then serve hot on top of the ice-cream.