So we’ve all heard of pairing wine with meals, it’s an art that has been perfected over hundreds of years. More recently, brewers and chefs have been successfully having beer and food events that Americans surely do love.
Enter WHISKEY. In the last 3-5 years or so, Whiskey has become the hot topic and many Americans are moving on from the old stand-by’s such as Jack and Jim and trying lesser known brands that are local and or handmade. Just like our food, people want to know where the things they ingest come from, as more and more often, inferior ingredients and chemically enhanced products make it to our lips.
George Dickel Tennessee Whisky does it right, as in every step of their process, there is an actual human being controlling it. Dickel’s slogan is “Handmade The Hard Way,” and we respect that fully. They source all of their ingredients locally and only use the finest of grains in their line of whiskies. Not only are they doing it right down in cascade hollow, they are spreading the word in some of the biggest cities, to let everyone know that this whiskey is superior to the drams that you may have an affinity to. There is no “lip-service” in their presentation, they let the liquid gold speak for itself, and it speaks loudly.
A small group of influential bloggers, big city news writers, and Pancakes And Whiskey, were invited to a special whiskey dinner at Maysville last week. We were treated to an amazing presentation from Dickel’s charming and informative representive, Dickel Doug. We also had the pleasure of eating some high-end BBQ from one of the worlds best chefs, Adam Perry Lang, who shared some of his cooking secrets. Chef Lang shared his technique of dry roasting whole spices which was mixed with salt and then ground together in a mortar and pestle, the result was one of the most fragrant and beautiful smells, which was intoxicating and delicious.
Chef Lang and the Dickel crew worked with the talented chefs at Maysville to create a dinner that was complete and well thought out. As our presentation was being given, amuse-bouche were handed out that included house specialties such as smoked mackerel, cracker envelopes filled with artisan cheese, and stuffed cucumbers. The drinks were also flowing with unlimited Old-Fashioned’s and the “Hound Dog,” which was tart, sweet and bitter, all at the same time.
The first course was my personal favorite, which was a delicious concoction of fresh razor clams and pickled carrot, that was swimming in a cilantro “broth.” The Dickel White that was paired with the clams was the absolute perfect compliment as the pure taste of the sweet corn whiskey cut through the zestiness of the cilantro. This may be one of the best things I’ve eaten in some time, it was that good.
As the second course was being presented, the first thing I noticed was the beauty of the dish as a whole. As soon as it was put in front of me, I could not help but to be taken in by the deep aroma of the smoked oyster broth, leeks and country ham which sat below a perfectly slow-cooked piece of arctic char. George Dickel No. 8 was paired with the dish and highlighted the deep flavors of the smoked oyster broth.
By the time the third course arrived, we had become comfortable with our neighbors at the table and the drinks were going down smooth. When the charcoal grilled quail was set in front of me, I could barely hold my excitement as quail is one of the hardest things for a chef to cook right, a few seconds over and it can be tough and rubbery – under and it’s inedible. The chefs at Maysville nailed it perfectly, and the addition of the ramps and charred red onion made it complete. I must make a special mention for the potato salad, it may of been the best I’ve ever eaten and when mixed with the red onion char, was divine. Dickel no. 12 washed it down, and brought out the char flavor on the quail.
The fourth course was something I had been looking forward to since the start of the night, because well, pig! The roasted suckling pig was accompanied by a grilled sweet potato, pickled turnips and greens. The chop was especially moist and tender, with the perfect amount of spice. The sweet potato had a nice char on it, adding to the overall smokiness of the dish. The only misstep of the night, and this is being ultra picky as an ex-chef – was that the pork belly could of used a bit more time under the broiler…I like my pork belly really crispy! That being said, it was a fantastic dish overall and the Dickel no. 12 was a special compliment.
By the time dessert arrived in the form of some amazing handmade goat-cheesecake topped with black figs, candied lemon rind, and a rosemary granita – I was nearly full. The dessert was the perfect ending to the meal – light and supremely refreshing. We were treated to Chef Lang’s personal single-barrel of dickel, while the color of the 9 year old whiskey was lighter that the no. 12, the overall flavor was supreme and left zero aftertaste, making it the smoothest of the wonderful night.
I left the dinner feeling complete and more informed that when I had arrived. We also were lucky to receive a bottle of Dickel No. 12, Chef Lang’s incredible cookbook and a bottle of the spice rub he had showed us at the beginning of the evening.
The spice-rub I’ve already dipped in to, and covered a whole chicken with it last night and paired it with baked potato and garlic green beans. I smothered the chicken in a whiskey-butter sauce using Dickel barrel-select (that the folks at Dickel graciously gave me this winter). It was really tasty and cannot wait to try more recipes using George Dickel Tennessee Whiskies!!
Try these recipes Chef Lang created just for George Dickel:
Be sure to read more about Whiskey and BBQ, in our interview with Dickel Doug and Chef Lang here!
Article by: Shayne Hanley