Michelin Star chef Paul Kitching, of Edinburgh’s 21212 explains his love of whisky as a drink and an ingredient and shows how to cook a spectacular whisky-infused feast
Coming to Scotland eight years ago, I was well aware I’d be getting closely acquainted with its three greatest products; smoked salmon, haggis and whisky. So, as a chef, and a great admirer of Scotland’s quality produce, they were destined to be included in my Franco-Scottish menu.
Personally, I like sweet malt whiskies as it reminds me of the essence of Scotland; honey, oats, spices – that warm and cosy feeling. Drambuie, a whisky liqueur, is one of my favourites to cook with. A wee nip in an already indulgent dessert sends your taste buds into overdrive.
With such a great variety of whiskies available, for me it’s the best spirit to cook with. While other liquors can dominate a dish with a strong alcohol flavour, the powerful smokey and sweet notes of whisky enhances, embraces and lifts the flavours of a dish. It also can be matched to both sweet and savoury dishes, something unique only to whisky.
Here’s a three course menu to showcase what whisky can do:
Warm peat smoked spring vegetables, clear plum tomato juice, chickpeas, barley and smoked chicken (all dishes serve 4)
Whisky: Caol Ila 15 – Beautifully balanced peat, toffee, smoked and cinnamon flavours
Tomato juice: 12 large ripe tomatoes, 2 onions, 1 garlic bulb, ¾ pint water, ¼ pint white wine vinegar, 25ml Caol Ila 15 whisky, ¼ pint olive oil
Vegetables: 4 cubes of swede, 4 cubes of carrot, 4 cherry tomatoes, 4 leek strips, 4 breakfast radishes, 4 cauliflower florets, 4 broccoli florets, 4 white cabbage cubes, 4 button mushrooms, 4 tsp fresh peas
Garnish: 4 cubes of smoked chicken, 4 macadamia nuts, 4 tsp pearl barley, 4 tsp olive oil, 8 chickpeas, dried vegetables of your choice to garnish
Tomato juice: Roughly chop the tomatoes, onions and garlic. Add the tomato mix to the rest of the liquid ingredients, blend then season to taste. Pass the mix through a tea towel, leaving if possible to drain overnight, to produce one pint of clear juice. Set aside until required.
Vegetables: Cook each vegetable in the tomato juice, starting with the root veg ie. the longest to cook first – swede, carrot, radish – and finish with the more delicate vegetables – peas, cabbage, mushrooms, tomatoes, leeks, cauliflower and broccoli. Set aside and re-pass the tomato juice through a colander.
To serve: Reheat the tomato juice. Arrange the smoked chicken, macadamia nuts and cooked barley on the soup plate. Reheat the vegetable garnish and arrange also on the soup plate. Pour over the hot tomato juice and finish with a spoonful of olive oil.
Tender cornfed French guinea fowl, warm ploughmans style vegetables, walnut and whisky
Whisky: Glenkinchie 12 – Light, fresh and zesty
Protein: 4 guinea fowl breasts, 4 black pudding portions (cooked), 4 white pudding portions (cooked), 4 sausage slices (cooked), 4 cubes of smoked bacon (cooked), 4 cubes of gammon steak (cooked), 4 cubes of pork haslet (cooked), 4 slices of Parma ham (deep fried)
Garnish: 4 cherry tomatoes, 4 cubes of feta cheese, 2 sticks of celery, 4 florets of cauliflower, 4 florets of Romanso cauliflower, 4 baby new potatoes, 4 baby onions, 4 walnut halves, 1 plum, finely sliced
Tomato sauce: 50ml cream, 1 onion, finely chopped, 1 small tin of chopped tomatoes, 1 garlic bulb (roughly chopped), 6 tomatoes, seasoning
Whisky and morel sauce: 50ml Glenkinchie 12yr old, 4 morel mushrooms, 100ml chicken stock, 100ml double cream, seasoning
Tomato sauce: Add all the ingredients apart from the cream into a pan and cook for one hour on a slow simmer. Blitz together and pass through a sieve for a smooth consistency. Add cream and set aside.
Whisky and morel sauce: Reduce chicken stock by half on a high heat. Add whisky and set alight to burn off the alcohol. Add cream, morel mushrooms and seasoning. Blend together with a hand whisk and set aside.
Garnish: Prep vegetables to adequate sizes. Deep-fry the baby onions. Blanch the celery, cauliflowers and new potatoes in simmering salted water until cooked. Refresh in iced water.
Protein: Dry bake the guinea fowl breasts in an oven at 80C for 45 minutes. Pan-fry all the other proteins until warmed. Deep-fry the Parma ham until crispy.
To serve: Remove guinea fowl from the oven and allow to rest for five minutes. Reheat all the vegetables, proteins and sauces. Serve the plum chilled. Arrange on the plates as desired and dress with the whisky and morel sauce as well as the tomato sauce to finish.
Creamy vanilla rice pudding, whisky anglaise
Whisky: Drambuie – Rich, sweet and spicy
Rice pudding: 200g pudding rice, 500ml milk, 300ml cream, 1 vanilla pod, 200g caster sugar
Anglaise: 250ml milk, 250ml double cream, 6 egg yolks, 50g sugar, 1 vanilla pod, 50ml Drambuie, 10ml stock syrup
Kiwi juice: 5 kiwis, ¼ cucumber, 50ml stock syrup
Pear puree: 4 pears, 50ml stock syrup, 100ml water
Pomegranate juice: 50ml pomegranate puree, 8 strawberries, 1 banana, 50ml stock syrup
Cottage cheese mix: 50g cottage cheese, 10ml yoghurtm 1 tsp lemon juice
Other: 4 portions of cucumber, diced, 4 portions of pomegranate seeds
Rice pudding: Gently warm the milk and double cream with vanilla pods. Dissolve the sugar in the warm mixture. Add the rice and regularly stir until the rice is cooked through. Once cooked, allow to cool.
Pear puree: Peel pears and slice. Place in a pan with water and the stock syrup. Heat and gently cook until the pears are soft. Blend together and pass through a sieve then set aside.
Kiwi juice: Combine together the kiwis, cucumber and stock syrup then blend together. Pass through a sieve. Place in a squeezy bottle ready to serve.
Cottage cheese mix: Combine the cottage cheese, lemon juice and yoghurt. Pass through a sieve and bottle up.
Pomegranate juice: Blitz together all the ingredients, pass through a sieve and bottle up.
Anglaise: Place milk, cream and vanilla pods on a medium heat. Combine together the egg yolks and sugar. Pour the cream mix onto the yolks and sugar then mix together. Return mixture to the heat and cook until mix becomes thick. Pass through a sieve. Add whisky and stock syrup.
To serve: Warm up the rice pudding with a small dash of extra cream. Reheat the anglaise, blend with a hand blender to create an anglaise foam. Plate up shot glass with pear puree, cottage cheese mix, pomegranate shake and top with the whisky anglaise. Place the rice pudding in a bowl and serve with the kiwi shake, pear puree, diced cucumber and pomegranate seeds. Top with the whisky anglaise.
For more information on 21212, visit www.21212restaurant.co.uk. For hotel and restaurant bookings, call 0131 523 1030.