The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2015

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Page 47 of 136

november 2015  /  the tasting panel  /  47 A Roaring Good Pairing Since John Wayne's film career was largely defined by Westerns and war movies, it's quite easy to imagine that The Duke would have dug the vibe Chicago's Red Lion Pub emanates. Set on the former site of a Western-themed saloon that put the "rough" in rough- and-tumble, the elegant two-story space is festooned with proprietor Colin Cordwell's impressive collection of British literature and memorabilia from both World Wars specifically tied to Cordwell's family. It's all part of a design to uphold what he considers to be a pub's true principles. "A good bar is like a decompression chamber, where a person can relax and enjoy meaningful discussion," he states. "In a way, it's the last bastion of society." When it comes to conversation, Cordwell leads by example. Pull up a spot at the venue's zinc-topped bar and talk to him; you just might find yourself engaged in a zesty chat that can range from the origins of gin's name to the works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. You also may get an enthusiastic endorse- ment on Duke Bourbon's virtues. "When I found out about Duke Bourbon, my reaction was, 'Hell, yes, I'm carrying that!'"Cordwell exclaims. "It really fits this bar like a hand in a glove." This snuggly match is highlighted in Cordwell's own diabolical take on the Manhattan, where Duke Bourbon joins forces with Antigua Carpano Italian Vermouth, Luxardo cherries and plenty of meticulous precision. This synergy between Red Lion and Duke Bourbon extends to the kitchen, where Executive Chef Spero Botsis uses it to whip up a honey and bourbon–glazed fried chicken for the competition. According to Botsis, it's the kind of dish that allows him to emphasize different flavors that are usually shied away from during wine pairings. "Bourbon is a strong-flavored spirit, so you need to make sure it pairs with a dish whose flavors are equally strong," he says. "For example, anything citrus-related could easily overpower a wine. But when paired with bourbon like Duke, they can create a nice interplay." Ready for the Face-Off Crumpled bodies and facial rear- rangements by way of flying pucks are rarely excuses for most hockey players to miss a shift on the ice. It's why they're considered by many to be the toughest athletes on the planet. While John Wayne may not have agreed with this sentiment—he played football at USC during the sport's leather helmet days—he would have undeniably deemed their collective grit as true. Hockey's reputation for toughness is a prime reason why Duke Bourbon is a perfect libation for Selanne Steak Tavern, which is named after co-owner and future Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Teemu Selanne. Yet the Laguna Beach, CA restaurant also enjoys a twin existence as an exquisite fine-dining establishment and a viva- cious neighborhood bar, a duality that works rather nicely with bourbon's col- lective narrative. "Bourbon walks that fine line between sophistication and fun very well," explains Neil Matchko, Selanne's Bar Manager. "It completely matches what we strive to do here." That line is expertly traversed by Matschko with his Smoking with the Duke cocktail, which utilizes a smoke-infused ice cube with Luxardo cherries embedded inside to create a glass full of playful intensity. Selanne's Executive Chef Josh Severson and Sous Chef Randall Hane matches the drink' smolder by blending Duke Bourbon, shredded braised pork belly, lentils, jalapeños and fresh vegetables to make a chili that's fit for a legend. "John Wayne's favorite dish was chili. Our pairing pays tribute to that," Severson sates. "The dish and the drink work to create a smoky, Western campfire essence, so we can absolutely envision John Wayne enjoying it here." The bowl is accompanied by a generous slab of pork belly made with a Duke Bourbon glaze, a touch that may make it even easier to picture Wayne indulging in the dish at the end of the bar. Perhaps while watching a hockey game. Duke Whiskey & Honey Glazed Fried Chicken by Executive Chef Spero Botsis, Red Lion Pub, Chicago, IL Serves 2–4 ◗ 1 chicken, about 4 lbs., cut in 8 pieces ◗ ¼ cup kosher salt ◗ 2 teaspoons ground black pepper ◗ 2½ cups buttermilk ◗ 4 cups cornstarch ◗ 2 egg whites Glaze: ◗ 1 teaspoon hot paprika ◗ 5 cloves of garlic, crushed ◗ 1 sprig of rosemary ◗ ¾ cup Duke Bourbon ◗ ¾ cup water ◗ ¾ cup honey Toss the cut up chicken in the salt and one teaspoon of the black pepper, rubbing it into the meat with your hands. Let it sit for 20 minutes and then add the buttermilk. Transfer to a non-reactive container, cover tightly with plastic, and let sit in the refrigerator for one to two days. Drain the chicken well, reserving the buttermilk. Combine the buttermilk with two cups of cornstarch and whisk to make a batter. Whip the egg whites to soft peaks and fold it into the buttermilk mixture. Mix the remaining teaspoon of pepper with the remaining two cups of cornstarch and toss the chicken to coat, packing it onto the meat. Dip the chicken in the buttermilk mixture and coat thoroughly. Fry at 325 degrees until floating and a thermom- eter inserted reads 165–170 degrees. Meanwhile combine all ingredients for the glaze in a non-reactive pot. Put over low heat and cook until reduced to a syrup. Strain. Toss the cooked chicken in the honey syrup to coat well. Serve with cornbread and greens. PHOTO: MARGARET SOSS Selanne Steak Tavern's Smoking with the Duke cocktail paired with a chili made with Duke Bourbon, shredded braised pork belly, lentils, jalapeños and fresh vegetables.

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