Lesego Semenya, aka LesDaChef, is a highly accomplished South African chef, and fellow whisky fan. In a story similar to ours, Les quit his corporate career to follow his passion and hasn't looked back since. Somewhere along our individual journeys we crossed paths and a mutual respect and friendship was born.
In a new recurring segment, we provide Les with a bottle of whisky and in return he drinks it, experiments with it and gives us a recipe; any recipe at all, there are no rules.
If you are a fan of LesDaChef, like we are, follow his amazing food adventures on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and his website. He is currently working up incredible recipes for Woolworths' food magazine Taste.
I’ve come to enjoy my monthly visits to the WhiskyBrother shop, not because of how I always want to buy everything (and can’t afford to) but because of the knowledge Marc always shares with me on each visit. Similar to how I approach food from a laid back but knowledge-based point of view, Marc (the founder of WhiskyBrother) has a similar attitude when it comes to whisky; always full of titbits and facts about things the average drinker takes for granted.
When I entered the store to collect a few more bottles for me to review and write about, I honestly wasn’t expecting to walk out with an American whiskey (yeah, the Americans and Irish spell whisky funny like that). I had mentioned to Marc that I can’t stomach American alcohol and that it just wasn’t up my alley. I was basing this purely on my experience with the mass-market American bourbon’s that I’d recklessly downed in my student days lovingly laced with sparkling grape juice and other sugary drinks.
So, obviously, Marc decided he’d try change my mind and view… and thus I stepped out of Hyde Park with a rye whiskey called Templeton “The Good Stuff”. A bit pretentious in name but then again, we’re dealing with Trump’s country here.
Templeton Rye 6 Year Old
The Good Stuff is made by a distillery known as Templeton Rye and yes, you’ve guessed it, their whiskey is rye based (one day when we do our Youtube tutorial on whisky making and drinking we’ll explain the nitty gritty of ingredients and their significance). Templeton Rye is based in Iowa, in the middle of American Midwest farmland country and they’re proud of this. The label even proudly states that it began during American prohibition days. The name “The Good Stuff” was the code name given to the whiskey the townsfolk would make using the farmed rye in the area. The bottle is simple and unpretentious, which is typically hipster and current, and there is nothing fancy about the look of it at all.
I know whisky people love stories about their favourite amber beverage but I’m going to cut the history lesson short and get to the actual taste of the whiskey: Sweet, smooth and easy-drinking, The Good Stuff is a mid-entry whiskey that is easy on the pocket but also easy on the tongue. No need to overthink its flavour notes, it is full of honey and treacle from the first sip. With an alcohol volume of 45.75% (the Americans double this figure to get their “proof” level, so it is 91.5 proof in American lingo…if you’re wondering). I tried it neat, on the rocks and chilled. It tasted best on ice with some of the ice being allowed to melt for a few seconds before the first sip but it also worked with just a dash of water as well. The whiskey isn’t aged for too long, this bottle was just a 6yr old, but to the average whiskey drinker you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference as the flavour is everything.
Biltong, Whiskey and Mushroom Sauce
So what did I do with the whiskey besides sip it? I used it to make a biltong and mushroom sauce for my rump steak. The sweet notes pair up well with tomato-based foods as well as well-aged beef. Here’s how I did it…
- 4 tots Templeton Rye
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 tbsp biltong dust
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 10 brown button mushrooms, sliced
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup liquid beef stock
- 1 tsp wholegrain Dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper
Heat a pan on the highest heat without any oil. Once really hot, add the butter and oil. Once sizzling, add the onions and fry for 2 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add the tomato puree and stir until the paste has become a dark brown colour. Now add the mushrooms and whiskey. Cook until the mushrooms have absorbed all the whiskey. Add the stock, mustard and biltong dust. Simmer the sauce for 3-4 minutes or until the right consistency. If it is too thick loosen it up with more stock or water. Taste and season.
Serve with your steak immediately.