A SPLASH OF WHISKY
Celebrate Burns Night with Whisky-Cured Salmon on its own or alongside fluffy Scottish Tattie Scones.
WHISKY-CURED SALMON WITH MUSTARD-LEMON CRÈME FRAÎCHE
Trust the Scots to know how to brighten up a winter’s evening. On January 25, Scots the world over celebrate Burns Night, the annual homage to Scotland’s most famous poet—and something of a rabblerouser—Robert Burns.
While haggis (really just a sausage with attitude) is traditional fare at Burns’s birthday bash, Scotland offers less-challenging gustatory pleasures, two of which—malt whisky and salmon—are surprising soulmates. Anglers who know their stuff cite the Spey in northeastern Scotland as one of the world’s best salmon rivers. And some of the most prestigious whisky distilleries hug the banks of the same water course. So, in the true spirit of terroir, we team the pair in a Caledonian take on gravlax, or cured salmon.
Glenfiddich Single Malt 15 Year Old (LCBO 605972, $80.95) provides the marinade for the salmon, its notes of vanilla and spice echoing the seasonings in the cure. This Speyside malt, with its lighter, honeyed profile, does double duty as the perfect tipple with the salmon. In addition to honey, look for flavours of marzipan-topped fruit cake, sherry and oak. And, as with all Scottish whiskies, do like the Scots and skip the ice—it dulls the whisky’s aromas and flavours—adding just a touch of water to open up the bouquet. Slàinte!
These tattie scones (a.k.a. potato pancakes) are at their fluffiest best served straight from the griddle, but they do freeze well. Lay the cooked scones in a single layer on a parchment-paperlined baking sheet and let cool completely. Freeze for 1 to 2 hours until firm, then transfer them to a large freezer bag and seal tightly. Reheat scones straight from the freezer, either in a buttered nonstick skillet over medium-low heat for 4 to 6 minutes, flipping once, or on a buttered baking sheet in a 300°F (150°C) oven for about 10 minutes. Try the scones for breakfast too, in which case, increase the salt added in step 2 to ¾ tsp (4 mL).
1 lb (500 g) russet potatoes, about 3 medium 1 tsp (5 mL) kosher salt, divided
¼ cup (60 mL) unsalted butter, cubed
½ tsp (2 mL) freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour plus additional flour, if necessary
¾ tsp (4 mL) baking powder
3 tbsp (45 mL) finely chopped chives
Additional unsalted butter for greasing
1 Peel potatoes and cut into chunks. Put potatoes in a medium saucepan with enough water to cover them by 1 inch (2.5 cm). Add ½ tsp (2 mL) salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until very tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
2 Drain potatoes and return them to saucepan over low heat, shaking saucepan to dry out potatoes. Remove from heat. Add butter, pepper and remaining salt to potatoes and mash roughly.
3 With a hand-held electric mixer, beat potatoes just until smooth and free of lumps. (Don’t overbeat or mashed potato will become gluey.) Let cool slightly.
4 In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 cup (250 mL) flour and the baking powder. Gently stir flour mixture into warm potatoes until well combined. Stir in chives.
5 Turn potato dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until smooth. (Dough will be very soft; gently knead in additional flour if dough is too soft to roll out.) Pat out dough to a disc. With a floured rolling pin, roll out dough to ¼-inch (5-mm) thickness. Using a 2-inch (5-cm) cutter, cut dough into rounds, re-rolling trimmings once.
6 Heat a griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium heat then brush with a little butter. Working in batches, fry scones, flipping them once, until golden brown and slightly puffy, 6 to 8 minutes, reducing heat to medium-low if scones brown too much. If serving immediately, keep each batch warm while you cook remaining scones. If making ahead, let scones cool completely on a wire rack. Makes about 30 scones