I have a tradition of buying a bottle of scotch from the duty free store every time I'm out of the country. Over time I've built up quite a collection of almost twenty scotches, however, we live in a condo and the amount of room we can allocate to booze storage is somewhat limited, so T-Moo has enacted a 1 in 1 out policy in our liquor cabinet. Seeing as I have a hefty travel schedule coming up and not being one to break with tradition, I needed to find a way to up my scotch consumption. A Robbie Burns day meal seemed like the perfect fit!
We scoured around our favourite web hangouts for inspired whiskey recipes and came across Zen Chef's AWESOME sounding recipe for soy-whiskey glazed baby chicken with sticky rice stuffing. It really was an ideal pairing as this weekend was also Chinese new year, however, we wanted to roll with a slightly more earthy flavour to complement the smoky whiskey so we substituted sticky rice with wild rice and brown rice and then swapped out soy with maple syrup to maintain the sweetness we lost by losing the sticky rice. The results are a little bit Scottish, a little bit Canadian, inspired by a French chef's Asian hybrid creation and 100% delicious.
2 cups duck or chicken stock
3/4 cup brown rice
1/4 cup wild rice
1/3 cup walnuts
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 onion diced
1 cup rough chopped shitake mushrooms
2 cloves garlic diced
3 sprigs thyme
3/4 cup smooth whiskey (I used Dalwhinnie)
1/4 cup smoky whiskey (I used Ardbeg)
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp brown sugar
Brown the mushrooms in some oil or butter and set aside. Saute the onions and garlic in a little oil until soft. Add the stock, bring to a boil, add the wild rice and turn down to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes then add the brown rice and simmer for 15 minutes more until rice is cooked. Add in the nuts, cranberries, 1 oz of smoky whiskey, and thyme mix well and set aside to cool.
While the rice is cooking, make the whiskey glaze by combining the remaining whiskey and the maple syrup and simmering gently until reduced by half. Clean and brine the birds (I had to do this as mine were frozen and my guests were arriving shortly). When the rice is cool enough to handle, stuff the birds with the rice mixture and place in a roasting pan on a rack. Place the remaining stuffing (if there is any) into a casserole dish or ramekin.
Cook the birds at 400F, basting with the glaze every 10 minutes until juices run clear or the meat registers 170F on an instant read thermometer. Remove the birds to a platter and cover with foil Add a half cup of water and any remaining glaze to the roasting pan and bring to a boil on the stove, stirring to scrape up any bits from the pan. When sauce has reduced by half, strain it to a fat separator if needed or directly to a gravy boat.
We served half a bird per person by slicing the birds in half down through the breast (they're small so you shouldn't have trouble if your knife is sharp) and served each portion on top of a gratin of potato, tomato and zucchini.