Chef Ray explores the different flavours of whisky and how it pairs with spice and steak. Plus, he shares a special bourbon bbq sauce recipe.
Kenyans’ thirst for whisky and for whisky knowledge, has grown rapidly over the past few years and bar owners and restaurateurs are finally stepping up their game with an array of unique collections which include everything from small batch single malts to barrel proof, limited edition whiskys.
With our newfound knowledge we finally know that scotch is simply whisky distilled in Scotland and that all Scotches are whiskies but not all whiskeys are Scotch. We’ve learned the difference between whisky and whiskey that like wine, it’s just a matter of geography. Scotland, Japan and Canada favour whisky, while the Irish and the Americans prefer to call it whiskey. Go figure.
Spelling aside, as a chef what interest me the most is how well whisky goes with food. Even the most avid of whisky aficionado will admit that there are other drinks that work better and I too have always been a bit of a sceptic when it comes to whisky pairing. But this month’s subject presented a challenge and here are two of my top picks to pair with whisky.
(Needless to say the better and, generally, older whisky, the more intriguing and complex the pairing.)
Spice -In most Asian countries they don’t hesitate to put whisky on the table. They don’t have the hang-ups, like we do, about whisky and food not going together. And so maybe it’s no wonder that spicy food goes well with whisky, considering their long standing relationship. From Indian food to Thai, the strength of flavour and freshness in these cuisines cuts through the richness and depth of whiskey, no matter how gnarly (and there are some pretty gnarly home made concoctions around in Asia). So the next time you order your Open House take away, try sampling a few different whiskys with it. I find that diluting the whisky with a bit of water allows for a better tasting experience.
Steak – Few things go as well together as whiskey and steak. It just makes logical sense. Whiskey has a rich, deep and very smoky underlying flavour that pairs beautifully with aged beef or anything done on a BBQ for that matter. It is important to select the right cut however, and generally a bit of fat helps any meat to stand up to a good whisky. If you’re not a fan of the straight stuff, here is a really simple recipe to add some whisky into your life without worrying about the headache the next day!
Bourbon BBQ Sauce Recipe
(Makes 2 cups)
- 1 cup bourbon
- 1 finely chopped onion
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 ½ cups ketchup
- 2 tbs tomato paste
- 2 tbs balsamic vinegar
- 4 tablespoons molasses
- 1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon liquid smoke
- Chilli to taste
- In a heavy saucepan bring the bourbon and onions to a boil, then simmer for 5 – 10 minutes, until you have 2 tablespoons of the liquid left in the pan.
- Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for a further 10-15 minutes, until thick and smooth in consistency.
- For a smoother texture, blend the sauce until onions have dissolved.