If you are mad about meat and like a dram for dinner, chances are you are a steak junkie. It’s no secret that whiskey goes well with a prime cut, done up crisp or left bloody. But, here’s the thing – it’s not just a shank or belly that couples just right with a glass of rich bourbon or scotch. Offal are just as worthy.
The Sicilians cook a mean stew with seasonal vegetables and veal tripe, slowly braised from the crack of dawn and sold as regular street fare. The little pepper, olive oil and lemon seasoning adds the adequate zing you need to pair it with a measure of Kilbeggan 8 Year Old. The young Irish single grain exudes creamy cereals and white chocolate, finishing short with some traces of toffee and butter. Although the pairing might seem counterintuitive, and unlike pairing wine which aims for familiarity, whiskey thrives on contrast which is exactly what this match offers up.
Pate is passé, but that shouldn’t be cause enough to ignore the humble liver. The only problem is, the organ leaves a very strong aftertaste which ends up subtracting from an otherwise pleasant experience. A grass-fed lamb’s liver or for that matter, chicken liver, pan fried with white onions, vinegar, tarragon, pepper makes a great prelude to a glass of Templeton Rye. Capone’s drink of choice – orange, allspice and butterscotch dominate the pallet. Even at 4 years of age, the wood is palpable in every sip and compliments the earthy creaminess of the liver.
The hardest-to-reach places hold the most coveted treasures and bone marrow is a fitting example in that regard. Try it as just an appetizer or as the main course, the buttery texture and the subtle umami is exceedingly more sublime than a cut of Kobe cooked to perfection. Diced marrow even makes an excellent ingredient in a salad or roast platter. The Monkey Shoulder Blended Scotch makes for affable company. Combining single malts from Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Kininvie, the deeply oaky profile is intercut with strong notes of dried apricots and honey offer a sweet counterpoint for the marrow’s nuttiness.
There are certain combinations that are destined to complement one another. Consider beef jerky and bourbon—it can’t get more American than that! The former invokes images of cowboys, rugged men with undying perseverance, who only allow themselves the most modest of pleasures.
To live a life full of adventure, one has to escape the ordinary. If you are up for this quest and willing to go beyond the cliché, food and whiskey pairing is the emerging culinary art. Whiskey and food matching may seem daunting because of the former’s complex character, but once you delve deep into the process, there are some ridiculously delicious flavors waiting to explode in your mouth.