Whisky Magazine and Aberlour single malt collaborated to concoct a classy appetiser to tasting event Whisky Live in London this March. The black-tie Aberlour Whisky Dinner prepared by world-acclaimed maître de cuisine Anton Edelmann at The Savoy proved once more that there is nothing unusual about enjoying whisky with a meal – maybe the start for a new trend on the Strand?
Continuing the tradition of hiring internationally-renowned foreign chefs, The Savoy first hired Munich-born Anton Edelmann 20 years ago to rule over an impressive brigade of 70 chefs, sous-chefs and apprentices. You can guess from the cheerful sparkle in the chef’s blue eyes that he has kept his enthusiasm and joie de vivre intact through all these years.
Routine has no place in Anton’s culinary approach. He likes to move between classicism and modernity. The tradition of French cookery in the style of Escoffier remains an indelible signature of the hotel, but by keeping his cooking inspiration on the boil, Edelmann opens the doors wide to all culinary experiences, welcoming a whisky dinner as a new gourmet adventure.
The chef confesses to being partial to Burgundy wine when it comes to pairing food and drink.
“Wine is the natural answer for me, I would never have thought of whisky being served with seafood or meat.”
This ‘virgin land’ to explore inspired Edelmann’s innovative spirit and resulted in an enthusiastic reaction to the challenge.
“I think I learned more about whisky in two hours than in 40 years! But, to be honest, my first reaction was, this cannot possibly work … Well, even if I favour some pairings better than others, I am now convinced by the rich display of combinations a good single malt can offer with fine ingredients.”
As previously found with Aberlour, the best pairing finds its balance somewhere between two extreme poles of sweetness and spiciness. The higher in alcoholic volume the whisky is, the spicier the dish has to be. The stronger the sherry influences on the malt, the closer to a sweet profile the food will be.
The initial starter provided a perfect demonstration of this tightrope act. The succotash, an old classic of American-Indian cooking, is a kind of sweet corn stew. Chef Anton recreated it in fusion style, setting it on fire with a fierce green Thai curry, while scallop and lobster played the moderators in the confrontation. And how did the cask-strength Aberlour bourbon cask fare? Its seemingly grassy sweetness began to flirt with the succotash as if ready to fade into a creamy softness, but as soon as it mingled with the hot curry sauce, it released a sensuous burst of ginger and white pepper, sustained by the 50% alcohol strength. There was no way the whisky would let the hot sauce take over. It would have been a really hard job to find a wine able to compete with such a flamboyant dish.
On the other hand, the main dish provided the Aberlour a’bunadh with a soothing array of delicate fruity, honeyish hints which fully exposed its rich bouquet. Mango combined with sweet potato mash provided an exotic taste experience; not to mention the colours of the dish – the orangey shades brilliantly complementing the copper amber of the dram.
The dessert satisfied more than one sweet tooth among the guests. Taking its cue from German apple strudel, the traditional granny’s home cooking-style delight must have been inspired by chef Edelmann’s childhood memories. It’s an easy recipe to make, and you must also try the pralines. What an original accompaniment to coffee!
If famous French chef Auguste Escoffier had had the chance to sample Aberlour when he re-vamped the Savoy kitchens, he certainly would have created ‘Aberlour Melba Pralines’ instead of Peach Melba, in honour of the great operatic prima donna!
Scottish scallop on lobster succotash in green Thai curry
Aberlour 11-year-old bourbon cask
Langoustine and goose liver with devilled salsa
Sherry and spiced duck with mango sauce and sweet potato mash with cardamom
Cinnamon and raisin-stuffed apple, baked in puff pastry with Aberlour 15-year-old butter sauce
Aberlour 15-year-old double-cask matured
Dark chocolate pralines with a bunadh parfait White chocolate pralines with Aberlour 12 year-old ice cream
Aberlour 12-year-old sherry cask matured
Apple wrapped in pastry with Aberlour bourbon cask butterINGREDIENTS
- 75g sultanas
- 25ml Aberlour bourbon cask
- 4 Reinette apples
- Ground cinnamon
- 300g puff pastry
- 1 egg yolk, beaten
- 25g icing sugar
- 50g caster sugar
- 50ml water
- 10g glucose
- 50g unsalted butter
- 150ml double cream
Soak the sultanas in Aberlour bourbon cask for at least one hour. Drain, reserving the whisky. Core the apples, then top and tail them so they stand level. Sprinkle the sultanas with the cinnamon and use to fill the centre of each apple.2.
Roll out the puff pastry 3mm thick. Cut four pastry ovals of about 18cm x 12.5cm, and brush the edges with yolk. Enclose an apple in each oval of puff pastry. Seal the edges well and crimp with a small knife. Brush each one with egg yolk and make a small cut in the top. 3.
Bake at 190˚C / gas mark 5 for about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and dust generously with icing sugar. Place under a hot grill to give a nice shiny glaze.4.
Cook the caster sugar, water and glucose in a heavy-based saucepan until a pale amber colour. Stir in the butter and the cream, reserving 25ml, then add the Aberlour bourbon cask whisky. Pass through a fine sieve.5.
Position each apple on a warm plate and surround with the sauce. Feather with the reserved cream.Note: glucose is used by professional chefs to prevent the syrup from cristallising. For home cookery, you don’t need to use it.Quick tip – how to feather: pour a few drops of cream onto the fudge sauce, and, with a fork, sketch lines in the shape of a feather.
Aberlour chocolate pralinesMakes about 20INGREDIENTS
- 100g Aberlour ice cream
- 100g luxury white chocolate
- 100g luxury plain chocolate (semi-sweet)
- 120ml heavy double cream
- Small amount of dry ice
Place a metal tray over the dry ice. Using a small melon-ball scoop (Parisian scoop), make small balls of ice cream and place on the tray to harden. Stick a cocktail stick into each one before it hardens, for ease of handling later.2.
Chop the white chocolate and pour 4 tablespoons of the cream over it in a small bowl. Chop the plain chocolate and place in a small bowl with the remaining cream. Melt both lots of chocolate over a saucepan of simmering water and stir until smooth.3.
Dip half the ice cream balls into the dark chocolate mixture one at a time, and return to the metal tray immediately to harden.4.
Repeat, using white chocolate.5.
Store the ice cream balls in the freezer in a rigid container until required.6.
For dramatic presentation, place a small amount of dry ice in a bowl and pour a little boiling water onto it, which forms a ‘mist’. Set the pralines on a plate and place on the bowl of dry ice.
Serve immediately.Note: if you cannot find dry ice, you won’t have the dramatic effect of the mist, but you will enjoy the pralines just as much!
Aberlour ice cream
There is nothing easier than making whisky ice cream. You just need to prepare a crème anglaise, using:
- 3 egg yolks
- 80g caster sugar
- 1 vanilla pod
- 125ml boiling milk
- 200ml double cream
Lower the crème anglaise to a gentle heat to avoid lumpiness. Let it cool down, then add 30ml Aberlour.2.
Churn the crème anglaise in an ice cream machine.3.
You need to keep it for a few hours at a very low temperature in the freezer as alcohol tends to slow down the freezing process.
If you do not have time to make ice cream, just stir whisky into a ready-made one.
Anton Edelmann used Aberlour a’bunadh for the dark chocolate pralines and Aberlour 12-year-old for the white chocolate pralines.
Recipes by Anton Edelmann, maître chef des cuisines, The Savoy