Here in Portland, Oregon, summer has already arrived. Clear skies and soaring temperatures have barbecues out all over the city. And if we really needed another excuse to break out the grill, George Dickel Tennessee whiskey is hosting a barbecue whiskey challenge. “What does barbecue mean to you?” they asked. Instructions were to explore that theme, while pairing our findings with a favorite Dickel drink. Post the results to social media, and *BAM* the challenge is complete. Food and whiskey? Game on!
Now, barbecue for most folks means meat. Challenge 1: I don’t eat meat. But do I ever barbecue! Sweet and spicy peppers, aubergine, sweet potatoes, or a portobellla mushroom steak are no less than fantastic straight off the grill. They dress up with Morroccan spices or downhome with American style basting sauces.
Challenge 2: How to choose?! First thoughts are of sweet potato and black bean burgers, which are dynamite with whiskey. Especially when seasoned with chipotle peppers and rolled in a pecan crust. I can almost smell the Dickel Barrel Select swirling in my glass. Which leads us to Challenge 3: My kids don’t eat sweet potatoes. The barest hint of one will put them off their plate. My mantra is they will grow out of it. In the meantime, though, there’s a challenge to complete. I began to explore that strange world of meat substitutes.
image copyright The Whisky Wash
As most vegetarians can tell you, meat substitutes are a weird concept. Meat eaters won’t be fooled and vegetarians don’t need fake meat. Vegetables are awesome and come in so many different flavors and textures. A meat substitue just might work for kids, though. Easy? Well, most meat substitutes, I discovered, are made by isolating the main protein in wheat and stretching it repeatedly until it can maintain the texture of cooked meat. This protein is called gluten. Which – you guessed it – is Challenge 4: My husband can’t eat gluten.
At this point, the barbecue will conist only of me staring at an empty grill, clutching an entire bottle of Dickel to my shell-shocked heart. I was staring at the slippery slope that begins with a small concession and leads to the horrible abyss of cooking three or four separate mains for every single meal for the next 15 years. In desperation, I put my dillema out on the vegesphere…and they came through!
Enter Beyond Meat brand of meat substitues. Made of micro-proteins (think mushroom based), they come in delightfully pre-cut chicken-less strips. Kids – check. Husband – check. My own future as household barbecuer – assured.
And none too soon! Tossing Beyond Chicken strips into the grilling basket with chipotle seasoning, I threw on some sliced red peppers, and turned to the whiskey. Pulling down the versatile little bottle of Dickel 12, I splashed some all over a mess of sweet onions and let them slowly carmelize until they colored up perfectly.
Tossed the resulting glory with baby greens and a farm fresh montrachet, and the meal was complete! With a neat little dram of Dickel 12 on the side to pull the whole thing together. Simple, really, this barbecue thing.
Tish Lester is a former restauranteur whose love of good flavors led her to the world of whiskey, where she is an avid participant, having attended nosings, tastings and master classes throughout Europe and the United States. She has recently discovered the truth that for every moment in our lives,...