Prawn pots and whisky are essential for an authentic Burns night.
* Listen to Prince Charles reading My Heart’s In The Highlands by Robert Burns.
January 25 will always hold a special place in Scots’ hearts. Rabbie himself might have thought a whisky cocktail frivolous, but that doesn’t mean you have to, especially as The Bard and the Bird uses The Famous Grouse, Scotland’s favourite blend: warm a teaspoon of heather honey and one shot of whisky.
Stir until the honey is dissolved and then half-fill the glass with crushed ice. Add a second shot and some mint leaves and stir. Top off with more ice and garnish with a mint sprig. Burns enjoyed his drams, although he would probably have been more familiar with the Lowland style. Today, most distilleries are further north, and the whisky is matured far longer than in the poet’s day, However, Auchentoshan employs the traditional three stills that created the lighter Lowland style.
The classic Lowland whisky is Rosebank. Although the distillery is now closed, you can seek out supplies from good specialists. With smoked salmon, try a salty Talisker from Skye, which has peat aromas, smoky-sweet flavours and a spicy finish.
The meat course calls for a big Speysider such as Glenfarclas, which is committed to tradition. Or enjoy the limited-edition Isle of Arran 250th Anniversary Robert Burns Malt, the only whisky allowed to carry Burns’ name and endorsed by the World Burns Federation. Selection must have been an onerous task. Serve whisky with still water in a tulip shaped glass that traps the complex aromas. Sláinte!
These whiskies are available in specialist off-licences and some supermarkets, or try Royal Mile Whiskies (www.royalmilewhiskies.com) or The Whisky Exchange (www.thewhiskyexchange.com)
Creamy prawn pots
Talisker 12 Year Old Single Malt’s peppery flavour and strong finish lift this dish to new heights. This is an incredibly easy, yet very glamorous, starter.
2 plump shallots, finely chopped
400g shelled prawns, medium large
12 Year Old Single Malt
150ml double cream
1tsp chopped fresh chives
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
50g grated Cheddar cheese
Butter four ramekins lightly. Melt the remaining butter in a pan and fry the chopped onion very gently until soft do not brown. This will take about 3–4 minutes. Then add the prawns and heat through, quickly add the whisky and cook for a further two minutes. Stir in the cream and heat again, but remove the mixture from the heat before it reaches boiling point. Don’t overcook the prawns or they’ll be rubbery and tasteless.
Add the chopped chives and stir in. Season to taste and spoon into the ramekins. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top and brown under a hot grill. Serve immediately, garnished with chopped parsley and toast triangles on the side.
From ‘The Whisky Kitchen’ by Sheila McConachie and Graham Harvey, which is available at £19.95 from GW Publishing (01635 268080; www.gwpublishing.com). More recipes can be found at www.whiskykitchen.com
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