Right in time for Christmas, I have prepared a three course dinner where whisky plays an important role as an ingredient. For each course I selected a single malt whisky that matches the character of the dish as well as possible.
The first course will be a classic oxtail soup. Because it’s Christmas, I propose to prepare the soup the classic way, including making a stock as base for the soup. This takes quite long, but most of it can be prepared in advance.
If there is one whisky that can be called “meaty”, it is Mortlach. Tasting notes repeatedly mention aromas like “beef stock” or “chicken broth”. Which whisky would be suited better for replacing the classic sherry or madeira that is commonly used for the preparation of oxtail soup?
As Mortlach is not always easy to get, it is possible to replace it by any full bodied whisky from a sherry or madeira cask. But the “beefy” character of Mortlach is almost impossible to replicate.
Ingredients for 4 to 6 persons
1 kg chopped veal or beef bones
1 kg oxtail copped into segments
1 large onion
1 large carrot
a piece of celery root
2 laurel leaves,
10 allspice berries
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 egg whites
100 g finely chopped or minced beed with as little fat as possible
A dram of Mortlach single malt whisky
Heat some oil in a frying pan and fry the bones until they are nicely brown. Put them into a pot, cover with water, add a little salt and slowly heat up. Let simmer at minimal heat without a lid for at least 3 hours. Remove any scum that collects on the surface as soon as possible. Add more water if the level has dropped too much.
Heat a bit of oil in a pot, cut the onion in halves and brown the flat sides in the oil. Remove and add the oxtail segments to brown them on all sides. Place the tomato paste on the bottom of the pot so it can brown as well a bit.
Carefully fill up with the stock; add some water, if the meat is not fully covered. Add the carrot and the celery, both diced or chopped, as well as the browned onion. Season with the laurel leaves and the allspice berries and a bit of salt.
As with the stock, let simmer for 3 hours and remove any scum as soon as possible. Then strain the broth through a sieve land let cool down. Save the oxtail pieces. Remove any fat by laying strips of kitchen paper onto the surface and removing them carfully. The fat will stick to the paper. You can also put the soup into the freezer until the fat becomes solid.
To remove any impurities, the soup has to be clarified. Stir two egg whites into the soup, add the minced meat and slowly bring to a boil and let simmer for half an hour. The coagulating egg will trap all the solids and so clear the soup. Because also some aromatics are lost, the minced meat will replace them. Strain and then let run the soup through a coffee filter placed inside a sieve. If needed, remove any remaining fat with kitchen paper.
Slowly reheat the soup but don’t let it boil. Cut some oxtail meat into small strips or dice and place in soup bowls. Add the dram of Mortlach to the soup, stir, fill the bowls and serve.