Thoughts on a Scotch Tasting
Inkedchef, I'm an amateur Scotch drinker, but I do have some thoughts on your post.
First, do you need to pack a dinner around your tasting? Scotch goes very will with certain hors d'oeuvre-type foods, and as an after-dinner drink. So a Scotch-tasting-cocktail-party set up might show it off well. (Some things that go well with it would be Scotch woodcock, Welch rarebit, other cheese items, etc.)
Second, if you are going to do a complete dinner, does Scotch need to be the beverage that accompanies every course? For the same reasons as above, it might go better with an appetizer, main course, and savory - the E***ish (sorry, Scottish people) post-dinner course, and leave certain courses either un-beveraged or served with wine.
Third, if you are going to use Scotch as a beverage for all of the courses of a dinner, it will probably go best if the dinner employs Scottish dishes. I have tried a few that go surprisingly well with Scotch. Where I actually have recipes, if I can figure out how to export the recipe from Master Cook, I'll post them below.
- Salmon, served with a "skirlie mash". "Skirlie mash" turns out to be mashed potatoes with leeks and shallots (sort of like the Irish concannon), plus steel-cut oatmeal mixed in. I have a recipe for that, and a white wine sauce for the salmon.
- Cranachan - a semi-sweet dessert that is a parfait of fresh berries (the recipe I originally saw used raspberries, but just about any red berries would do) layered with what is essentially steel-cut oats soaked in honey and Scotch and then folded into whipped cream. I was surprisingly impressed when I tried this. (I bought a can of Scottish steel-cut oats without realizing what they were, then had to locate recipes to use them, since I'm not a big oatmeal fan.)
- You can play around with Scottish recipe websites. Here are a couple with interesting things: http://www.electricscotland.com/food/recipes/; Traditional Scottish Recipes - Scottish Culture
Finally, there are at least a couple of major categorie of Scotch (if didn't already know this), and they vary in how peaty they are. Highland Scotches (like most of those with "Glen" in the name) generally are the lightest, and Islay Scotches (like Laphroaig) are the heftiest. Once you get past the peat, the highland Scotches can be surprisingly sweet. The Islay Scotches rarely let you get past the peat.
Sorry to be so wordy, but I just got going and couldn't stop myself.
Salmon with Skirlie Mash & Dill Cream Sauce
4 russet potatoes (about 3 lbs.) -- peeled, cut into 2" pieces
1/2 cup unsalted butter (one stick)
2 large leeks (white and pale green parts only) -- chopped
2 large shallots -- chopped
1 1/4 cups water
1/3 cup Scottish steel-cut (pinhead) oatmeal
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large shallots -- chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup chilled butter -- cut into 8 pieces
1 tablespoon fresh dill -- chopped
6 5-ounce salmon fillets -- with skin
2 tablespoons olive oil
For Skirlie Mash: Place potatoes in a large pot. Cover with cold water
and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until tender, about 15 minutes
once boiling. When done, drain and return potatoes to the pot. Stir over
medium heat until dry, a couple of minutes.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Add leeks and
shallots and saute until soft. Add 1 1/4 cups water and bring to boil.
Add the oatmeal. Reduce heat to medium and cook until the oatmeal is
tender, but still firm to bite, about 6 minutes.
Mash the potatoes, and stir in the cream. Stir in the oatmeal mixture.
Season to taste with salt & pepper. Keep warm. (This can be made 2 hours
ahead, standing at room temperature and being rewarmed for serving.)
For sauce: Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add
shallots and saute until starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Add wine and
boil until reduce by at least half. Add the cream. Simmer to reduce the
consistency to a sauce. Gradually whisk in the butter. Stir in the dill.
Season to taste with salt & pepper.
For Salmon: Preheat oven to 400 F. Sprinkle salmon with salt & pepper.
Drizzle flesh side with oil. Place flesh side down on a rimmed baking
sheet. Bake until just opaque in the center, about 8 minutes.
To serve: Divide the skirlie mash among plates. Top each with a salmon
filet. Drizzle with sauce.
10 1/2 ounces fresh raspberries or strawberries
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons good quality honey
2 tablespoons scotch whisky
3 tablespoons oatmeal
In a dry skillet, toast the oatmeal over medium to medium-low heat, until
it is golden brown. This process could take between 10-20 minutes.
Once the oatmeal is brown, turn off the heat and let it cool in the pan.
Place the cream in a bowl and whisk up until it makes fairly stiff peaks
and is relatively thick.
Combine the honey and scotch whisky in a small bowl.
Fold the oatmeal and honey-scotch whisky mixture into the cream.
To serve, choose any of the following methods:
a. Fold the berries into the cream mixture carefully, keeping out a few
to serve as garnish.
b. In a parfait glass or martini glass, alternately spoon the cream
mixture and berries to make layers. Start and end with cream mixture.
Top with a decorative berry or two.
c. Put the cream mixture into two serving bowls, and garnish with
Can be served relatively immediately, or the oatmeal-cream-whisky-honey
portion can be held in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight -
but not more than one night.