By Richard Thomas
Steak and whiskey are one of my favorite dining combinations. After a hearty steak dinner, nothing hits the digestive spot better than a tumbler of whiskey (except perhaps a snifter of it), and one of the factors I employ to judge the quality of a steakhouse is what bourbon and/or scotch line the bar shelves. When you recall that bourbon has been used in making barbecue sauces and the like for years now, using scotch for a steak sauce seems like a natural step.
Before describing the recipe, a word about the choice of scotch is in order. I recommend following The Whiskey Reviewer’s general rule for cooking with whiskey: use good, but inexpensive spirits. Like fine wine, expensive and aged single malts are wasted on cooking. Yet at the same time, cooking with rotgut will probably ruin the dish.
Also, the character of the scotch you choose will influence how the recipe turns out. If you use a more floral scotch, such as William Lawson’s, the sauce will have sweet undertones. Using a more peaty scotch, like Grant’s, imparts a hint of peat smoke to the sauce.
The recipe described below makes enough sauce for two steak dinners. Adjust the amounts upwards or downwards as necessary.
One medium-sized onion
Two handfuls of sliced fresh mushrooms
One or two shots of scotch
Approximately 150 ml of cooking cream
Start by melting a modest dollop of butter in a skillet. I recommend using butter in place of oil, because the core of this sauce is another dairy product and I think oil is a poorer choice for cream and cheese sauces.
Peel and slice the onion. Saute the onion in the skillet until the onion softens. Add the mushrooms and continue sauteing until the mushrooms are slightly browned.
Pour in the scotch. Allow the scotch to bubble, and then add the cream into the skillet. Be quick about adding the cream, since you want to mix it into the skillet before all of the scotch boils away. Add pinches of salt and pepper to taste while stirring up the cream, onions and mushrooms. Once the sauce turns a light brown, it is ready to serve.