Chef Tom – Whiskey-A-Go-Go

The word “whiskey” comes from the Gaelic uisge, a shortened version of uisge beatha meaning “water of life,” also known as aqua vitae in Latin. 

Whiskey was originally used as a medicine, both as an internal anesthetic and an external antibiotic.

There is no wrong way to drink whiskey. The higher-end whiskeys (e.g., really old scotch and specialty bourbons) are often enjoyed straight. Some people like their whiskey on the rocks while others add a splash of water. This can open up the aromas and flavors, particularly of high-proof whiskeys. A shot of whiskey is popular and it’s often mixed into shooter recipes.

Following are some food recipes featuring whiskey (go find whiskey cocktails from Anders’ videos from last week’s post). Whiskey is a very popular subject for some good song making, too. Chris Stapleton’s Tennessee Whiskey being one of my favorites.

A great primer for whiskey, its history, how it’s made, and how to drink it.

Whiskey Salmon, Salt Potatoes

Whiskey-Glazed Salmon with Salt-Crusted Potatoes

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:
For the Potatoes

1 ½ pounds baby gold potatoes, scrubbed

2 tablespoons coarse sea salt or kosher salt

For the Salmon

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

½ cup whiskey

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

4 (5-ounce) salmon fillets

Salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:
Make the potatoes: The potatoes should all be the same small size, about 1 inch in diameter, so cut any larger ones in halves or quarters. Place in a large saucepan with 4 cups water and add the salt. Bring to boil over high heat, then continue boiling until a paring knife slides through a potato easily, about 15 minutes.

About 5 minutes before the potatoes are tender, start the salmon: Combine the sugar, whiskey and Worcestershire sauce in a large skillet, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Season the salmon with salt and pepper, then add to the skillet skin side down (or the flat side if the fillets are skinless). Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the salmon becomes opaque about halfway up the sides, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, carefully tip the saucepan into the sink to pour out all but about 1/4 cup cooking water, keeping the potatoes in the pan. Return the saucepan to the stove with the potatoes and a thin layer of cooking water at the bottom, and set over high heat. Cook, shaking the pan often, until the liquid evaporates and the potatoes are crusted in a fine film of salt, about 5 minutes. The pan should be extremely dry and coated in salt and the potatoes will sound crackly when shaken.

Flip the salmon and continue cooking until just opaque from top to bottom and a paring knife slides through with almost no resistance, about 5 minutes longer. If you started with a 1-inch-thick fillet, this will be medium-rare. The timing will vary depending on the thickness of your fish and your preferred doneness. If you’d like, use tongs to peel off and discard the skin if there is any. The glaze should have thickened and be syrupy.

Divide the potatoes and salmon among serving plates and drizzle any glaze from the pan over the fish.

Cranachan

Cranachan

Serves 4

Cranachan (CRON-a-kin) is a traditional Scottish dessert. It was originally a celebration of harvest, made following the raspberry harvest in June. The dessert of cream and fresh seasonal raspberries is bolstered by Scottish oats and whisky. It has been called ‘the uncontested king of Scottish dessert.

Ingredients

2 ounces (55 grams) steel-cut oats

8 ounces (250 grams) fresh raspberries, Scottish if possible, divided

1 pint (475 milliliters) heavy cream, or double cream

3 tablespoons malt whisky, good quality

1 tablespoon honey, plus more for serving (optional)

Directions:
Gather the ingredients.

Heat a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan until hot, but not burning.

Add the oats and, while stirring, toast until they have a light, nutty smell and begin to change color. (Do not leave the oats unattended as they can quickly burn.) Remove immediately from the pan.

Remove a handful of the raspberries for later, and place the remainder in a food processor. Pulse once or twice to create a thick purée; do not over blend it. It’s okay if there are a few bigger lumps of berry.

Alternatively, you can simply crush the raspberries with a fork. This will give you a more rustic-looking dish.

In a large, clean bowl, whisk the cream along with the whisky to form firm peaks. Take care not to overwhip.

Fold in the honey (if using), followed by the toasted oats.

Layer the dessert into either a large glass trifle bowl or individual serving glasses, starting with either a layer of the cream or raspberries and finishing with a layer of the cream. If you wish, you can sprinkle a little oatmeal on the top for decoration.

Cover the bowl or glasses with plastic wrap and chill for a minimum of 1 hour. 

To serve the cranachan, drizzle over a little extra honey mixed well with a teaspoon of whiskey.

Serve and enjoy.

Whiskey-Nut Camembert

Whisky and Nut Baked Camembert

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

2 x 250g wheels camembert

4 rosemary sprigs, torn

4 thyme sprigs, torn

50g mixed nuts , chopped

2 tbsp Scotch whisky

3 tbsp maple syrup

soda bread or sourdough, to serve (optional)

Directions:

Heat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Chop the cheese into chunks and divide between eight ramekins. Mix the herbs with the nuts.

Splash the whisky over the cheese, then top with nuts and drizzle over the maple syrup.

Put on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 mins or until soft. Serve with soda bread, crackers, or toasted sourdough.

ON THAT NOTE

Songs about whiskey. About drankin. About gettin real drunk and it still don’t do no good.

Whiskey

Chris Stapleton – Tennessee Whiskey (Austin City Limits Performance)

The Doors, “Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)” 

John Lee Hooker – One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer 

Willie Dixon – If The Sea Was Whiskey

If the sea was whiskey
and I was a diving duck
If the sea was whiskey
and I was a diving duck
I’d swim to the bottom

I don’t know if I’d come up

I’m just here wanderin’
will a matchbox hold my clothes
Just here wanderin’
will a matchbox hold my clothes
If things don’t get no better
Then down the road I’ll go

Whiskey and beers
They don’t make me drunk
Whiskey and beers
They don’t make me drunk
These blues gonna make me pack my trunk.

BONUS TRACK 1

Great versions of Chris Stapleton’s sweet song.

Kid’s 9 years old.

Tennessee Whiskey (9 year old Taj Farrant) by Chris Stapleton

BONUS TRACK 2

Dad sings, his daughter reacts. Awesome performance.


Tennessee Whiskey

=CTH=

Chef Tom is currently transitioning from Personal Chef to Private Chef. He also teaches cooking classes, caters small parties and leads overseas culinary tours. His specialty for the last twelve years has been cooking for people with food allergies and sensitivities. His motto is “Food should give you pleasure, not pressure.”

Check him out at www.hippkitchen.com

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