When you think of Scottish Cuisine, if you picture haggis and blood pudding, think again.
I confess. I have a fascination with Scotland, particularly the Highlands and Islands. And the Clans. I’m engaged in a futile attempt to learn Gaelic. (Ciamar a tha sibh?) For the moment, I can’t experience Scotland in person, so why not experience it through the food? And there is a lot of really excellent food in Scotland.
This meal is adapted from one created by Chef Alastair Nisbet, originally from Aberdeen. Chef Alastair currently runs The Scottish Arms in St Louis. I’ll walk you through it step-by-step. (Serves 4)
Start With The Parsnips
1-1/2 Pounds Parsnips
1 cup Cream
1/2 stick (4oz) unsalted butter
If you’ve never eaten parsnips you may be surprised by their sweetness. For this recipe they are prepared in almost exactly the same way as mashed potatoes. The temptation is to use large thick parsnips. Don’t. The core in larger parsnips gets woody and fibrous. Choose smaller parsnips instead. Peel the parsnips. Cut them into pieces of roughly equal size so the pieces will cook at the same rate. Put them in a saucepan and cover then with water. Put them over medium heat and bring to a boil. When the parsnips can be easily pierced with a fork (20-30 minutes), pour them and the boiling water through a colander and let drain. Move them back to the hot saucepan and shake them around a bit to dry the excess water.
You can mash the parsnips with a fork or potato masher but I find the job is much easier – with creamier results – with a potato ricer. Add the butter. Mix with a spoon until the butter has melted and is fully combined. Add cream until you get the level of creaminess that suites your fancy. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set the now-ready parsnips on a warming tray at in the oven at 170-200F.
Prepare the Root Vegetables
1 Pound Carrots
1 Pound Turnips
2 Tablespoons Honey
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 Cup water.
Peel the carrots. Slice them crosswise or use a roll cut (pictured). I prefer the roll cut for it’s visual appeal. Peel the turnips and cut them into 3/4 inch cubes. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the carrots and turnips. Let them cook for about 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of water and a tablespoon of honey to the saucepan. Let the carrots and turnips cook until most of the liquid as evaporated. Stir in the remaining tablespoon of honey, making sure all the pieces of carrot and turnip are coated. Let cook for an additional 3-4 minutes.
Prepare the Salmon
1 Salmon fillet per serving
Freshly ground black pepper
1-2 sprigs Rosemary
1 Lemon wedge per serving
Remove the skin from the salmon fillets. If you are not comfortable doing so, here is a technique you can use to cook the salmon skin-on and then remove the skin later. Oil the frypan with a high-smoke point oil such as canola or safflower oil and place it over high heat. You want the oil to be almost smoking before adding the salmon. Place the salmon in the hot frypan top-side down so the side your guests will see cooks first. When the salmon has a nice brown crust flip it over and cook the other side. Add cracked or freshly ground black pepper. The trick with salmon is to not overcook it. When it shows the first hint of being done remove it from the pan.
Place a spoonful of the parsnips in the middle of the plate. Carefully rest a salmon fillet on top of the parsnips. Spoon the root vegetables around the parsnips. Garnish with the rosemary. parsley, and lemon.