Well, the whiskey recipe challenge has begun. In all my years as an amateur chef and whiskey aficionado, I had never thought to marry the two together. Sure I have glanced at the Bourbon BBQ sauces on the selves and I had a generous hand adding wine, sherry, port and brandy to various dishes (OK there were those lemoncello and ouzo palate cleansers I did once) but I had only seen whiskey as a sipping drink. Thanks to Avril and Sinead for providing the inspiration to create new and exciting recipes with whiskey.
Although we, Avril, Sinead and myself, have plenty of dessert recipe ideas, we thought it might be fun to try to incorporate whiskey into something a little lighter (after the holidays and all). Someone suggested a Salad and we realized, why that might be a fun and interesting place to start. Thus was born the idea of a Whiskey Caesar! Hopefully the first of more recipes featuring whiskey in a salad, for those of us trying to eat more veggies this January.
An Islay Caesar Salad
Islay Caesar with grated parmesan and Moroccan olives.
Of course I immediate thought of adding a heavily peated whiskey to Caesar salad dressing. The smoke and iodine of an Islay would, I hoped, lend itself to the rich anchovies and egg of a Caesar. Since not everyone likes peated whiskey, I also created a Caesar using an Irish Whiskey. For the peated I used Ardbeg. I also have Laphroaig, but found Ardbeg to mesh more pleasingly with the ingredients. Maybe it’s just my particular palate, I encourage experimentation. For the Irish I chose Grace O’Malley because of its good mix of citrus, caramel and spice notes. Plus it has a rich oily finish, so hopefully it would not get lost in the mix of egg and fish. I did try another Irish whiskey, but that was a bit too light didn’t add much flavour. Grace O’Malley does lend itself to being mixed.
To my palate, I felt the Ardbeg made a slightly better Caesar dressing. The smoky peat and iodine complimented the anchovies more than anticipated. Topped with grated parmesan, the dressing held a base of rich and creamy egg and fish oil, while the whiskey added a delightful top note of smoky peat that paired well with lettuce. I could taste the peat, so I would recommend this for those who enjoy a peated whiskey. Although I’ll be curious to know if others like the smoky quality as well.
The Irish whiskey was not as successful, but with a few drops of orange and topped with grated orange peel, the Irish Whiskey Caesar came into its own and was rather good. It was sweeter and more subtle but added a distinct tangy flavour to the Caesar which helped to cut the richness.
Here is the recipe for a proper Caesar Salad dressing. Please don’t use a recipe that calls for mayonnaise and Worcestershire sauce as the mixture of egg and oil is a home made mayonnaise that is much better than anything store bought. Or if you want to take the path of least resistance, just grab a bottle of ‘Original Caesar’ and add a teaspoon of whiskey (4 grams) to 76 grams (1/3 cup) of dressing.
Ingredients for Caesar Dressing
- 6 oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained OR 1 and ½ teaspoon of anchovy paste (1/2 teaspoon equals 2 anchovy fillets)
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped or finely grated
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 64 grams (1/2 cup) light olive oil OR 2 tablespoons olive oil and ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Romaine Lettuce
- Make a paste of the anchovy and garlic. Mince the anchovies and garlic together until smooth, about 3 minutes. Set aside.
- Whisk the egg yolks. Place egg yolks in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth
- Add the mustard. Slowly whisk in the mustard until just combined
- Add the anchovy-garlic paste
- Whisk in the lemon juice until smooth
- Whisk in the olive oil. Very important to add the oil slowly, one tablespoon at a time, whisking consistently until the mixture is smooth and creates a thick emulsion. Once all the olive oil is added whisk for another minute. If using vegetable oil, add the olive oil first until an emulsion is achieved, then add the vegetable oil in slowly.
- Add the finely grated parmesan cheese
- Add a teaspoon of Ardbeg Whiskey and whisk until smooth.
- Season with cracked pepper
- Season with cracked pepper
- Put several dollops into a large bowl and add the romaine lettuce. Mix the lettuce in the bowl until entirely coated with dressing then place on a plate or in a wide bowl.
- Grate or slice fresh parmesan cheese over the salad along with croutons, bacon bits and crusty bread.
Grace’s Irish Caesar Salad
Irish Caesar with Grace O’Malley whiskey. Freshly grated orange rind on top.
Make the dressing above but cut the lemon juice down to 1 and ½ tablespoons and add ½ tablespoon fresh squeezed orange juice. When the dressing is made, add 1 teaspoon Grace O’Malley whiskey per 76 grams (1/3 cup) and a few drops more of orange juice if needed to taste.
If you are using pre-made Caesar dressing, just add 1 teaspoon of whiskey and ½ teaspoon orange juice.
Serve this Caesar with freshly grated orange rind on top along with croutons. Steamed asparagus goes particularly well with this salad.
As always let me know how you get on with this recipe and if anyone makes tweaks or additions or experiments with different whiskies. Slainte!