The Glenlivet 18 Year Old has a balanced and elegant character, with finishing notes of moist raisins. We've asked some notable chefs to prepare dishes that complement different versions of The Glenlivet. Here, chef Mourad Lahlou works with those raisin notes in The Glenlivet 18 Year Old.
"Why would you ever reconstitute raisins with water?" Mourad Lahlou asks incredulously. A native of Morocco, the San Francisco chef prefers to use spirits instead of water when cooking with dried fruit, which not only add flavor but also preserve the texture of dried apricots, peaches, prunes, and raisins. Mourad created a complex salad of sweat potato and arugula, bathed in chicken jus, and topped with an egg yolk and dark Thompson raisins soaked in The Glenlivet 18 Year Old.
"The scotch adds depth and takes off the sweet edge of the raisins," Lahlou says. He is known for using the local ingredients of northern California to create innovative and global flavors. "The dish represents the fall," he says. "Sweet potatoes are everywhere at the farmers markets right now." At the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, where many chefs shop, they're available alongside fresh grapes and local raisins. "The goal was to take a pedestrian ingredient — sweet potatoes — and make something unexpected and sophisticated out of it, and the raisins make that happen," he says.
To achieve the right balance, each element plays a part. The arugula adds a spicy bit of crunch. The chicken jus adds depth. The sweet potato provides an earthy, comforting element. While the egg yolk serves as a rich dressing that coats the dish. Raisins bring sweetness and a bit of rich texture — almost like a firm custard. "And the scotch adds just a touch of smokiness," he says.
Alcohol-infused dried fruits might not be commonplace in America, but Lahlou says the process is much more common in the Mediterranean. "You see it in France, you see it in Morocco," he says.
Lahlou appreciates the dimensions The Glenlivet adds to a dish. He is willing to wait for it, often soaking dried fruits for six to eight months at a time before incorporating them into his cooking. "With scotch, the fruit keeps its integrity and texture and gains all that flavor," he says.
In the Moroccan tradition, Lahlou uses raisins and other dried fruits throughout the course of the meal. "We don't tend to finish a meal with a pastry," he says, rather with a cup of sweetened tea. Dried fruits are combined with meats, vegetables, and grains in a similar way that sweet spices, like cinnamon, are used in savory dishes. "I tend to use a puree made of dried fruits whenever something calls for sugar," he says. "Fruits have depth, the flavor is profound. Using the right spirit makes all the difference."
To learn more about The Glenlivet portfolio, visit theglenlivetcask.com. Remember to enjoy responsibly.