When the temperature outside is bitingly cold, it’s a good reason to gather round a warming fire with the people you love spending time with. But what if the fire was outside too? That’s the thinking behind our recent collaboration with Freek van Noortwijk, award-winning chef and owner of several restaurants in the Netherlands.
Freek’s Wild Winter BBQ is a celebration of the wild harmony of flavours found in Highland Park whisky, fuelled by his exploration of the Dutch Veluwe, in the company of wilderness expert, Edwin Flores. Mushrooms and yarrow, bird vetch and chickweed, Douglas Fir needles and carrot seed, formed the inspiration for a stunning three-course menu. Freek explains: “I went into nature together with Edwin to collect our ingredients. I wanted to combine the earthy flavours with the balanced taste of Highland Park whisky, which I subtly showed in every dish.”
We’ve included the recipe for Freek’s starter, Local Trout, and if you’d like to create the full three-course menu, just follow the links for his Forest Lamb main course and Stewed Pears dessert. Don’t be fooled by such deceptively modest and deceptively simple names, however, these clever recipes typify the ‘intelligent comfort food’ that Freek is renowned for.
WILD WINTER BBQ: LOCAL TROUT
Freek recommends pairing the trout with 10 Year Old Viking Scars as the whisky’s notes of dried citrus fruits with a lightly smoky aftertaste complement the dish perfectly.
Ingredients (to serve 4)
2 fresh trout (filleted and skinless)
2 smoked trout fillets
100ml good quality canola oil (or olive oil)
50ml apple cider vinegar (or white balsamic vinegar)
25ml Highland Park 12 Year Old Viking Honour
1/2 lemon juice and zest
Salt and pepper
Creamy potato puree
250g floury potatoes
1 sweet onion
1 leek (washed and dark green leaves removed)
2 cloves of garlic
1 bay leaf
50ml white wine
500ml strong fish stock (can be from a cube)
20 small silver sweet pickled onions
10 g wild watercress
50g wild chickweed
1 fresh horseradish
1. Check the fresh trout fillets for bones and cut them into sashimi slices about 2 cm wide and season with some pepper, salt and the zest of the lemon. Then slice the smoked trout into 1 cm wide pieces.
2. Combine the oil, vinegar, whisky, honey, and lemon juice and zest and season with salt and pepper. Reserve half of this vinaigrette to briefly marinate the sashimi just before serving and use the other half to prepare the roasted leeks.
3. To make the potato puree, finely chop the sweet onion, the leek and the garlic cloves, and fry them on the less hot spot of the BBQ for five minutes until they are translucent. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes, cut them into 2 cm cubes and add to the pan along with the bay leaf and the butter. Move your pan to the hot spot on the BBQ and cook the potatoes briefly, then deglaze with the white wine. Let the alcohol evaporate for a minute and add the cream and half of the stock. Cook for 10-15 minutes and add more stock if necessary. Depending on your pan and your heat source, this will be necessary to get the desired thickness as you now need to turn the mixture into a thick, smooth puree with a blender or hand blender. Remember to remove the bay leaf first!
4. Roast the remaining two leeks for 20-30 minutes on the less hot spot on your BBQ, they may burn a little on the outside. Remove the leeks as soon as they feel soft. When cooled, peel off the outer layer and cut the leeks crosswise into 1 cm thick slices. While the leeks are roasting, halve the silver onions and burn them with a crème brûlée burner until they’re slightly coloured. Pick and wash all the wild herbs and clean the horseradish.
5. Before serving, marinate the raw pickled trout in half of the vinaigrette, using the other half to dress the leek slices. Take four flat plates and place three large tablespoons of the creamy potato puree on each plate. Divide the raw marinated and smoked trout over this. Then place the leek slices and silver onions playfully on and next to the fish. Garnish with the wild-picked herbs and finish with two good gratings of fresh horseradish.
About Freek van Noortwijk
A business economy graduate, becoming a chef was perhaps not the obvious career choice for Freek but having cooked in restaurants as a student, he made his culinary breakthrough with his friend Guillaume in Restaurant Daalder in Amsterdam. Their popular ‘bistronomy’ style, which they describe as ‘intelligent comfort food’ – simple dishes with a refined depth - formed the basis for the pair’s own first restaurant in Utrechtsestraat, Amsterdam with another friend, Jojanneke. The three culinary partners are now in charge of a portfolio of restaurants in the Netherlands including Breda, Pita, Klein Breda and Maris Piper.