Oatmeal. I love it. As part of my somewhat recent (I guess it has been 18 months now, holy s*&$) healthy routine, I eat steel cut oats every morning. That is a lot of oatmeal. And not a whole lot of flavor. I have supplemented with a bunch of things to add flavor, but by mistake, this Summer, I added some vanilla salt. Vanilla salt was something brought to my attention by Chris Cosentino’s book. After making the vanilla salt, I wondered what else could be mixed with salt to create flavor.
There are all sorts of fancy lavender and mint and cumin and whatever sugars, but the salts are pretty limited. A thought that I had when looking at a plate of grilled peaches was adding bourbon flavors to salt. If bourbon was made of fat, lots of things would be better, but it would also be easier, with the power of Maltodextrin, to make into powder to add to salt. As it stands, bourbon is all liquid which makes things more difficult. I did a little research and all that I could find was bourbon barrel smoked salt, which I had done before. I wanted the flavors of bourbon front and center.
It took a little thought and a lot of practice to actually make this happen. Thinking about changing liquid to solid, I had two options. I could freeze it, but that would only make bourbon ice. Then I tried dehydrating the bourbon. After pouring a bunch of Maker’s over a silpat and cooking it in a low oven, I was greeted with so little dehydrated bourbon that it barely made it out of the texture of the Silpat. I knew that I would have to cook it longer and keep the same amount of bourbon in a smaller container.
While I am hate-typing this, I actually purchased (or rather, out of shame, sent a proxy to purchase) silicon cupcake holders. Dear Gob, I hate cupcakes, but those sweet silicon holders proved to be the proper vessel for dehydrating the forever awesome bourbon. To boot, I snapped a photo of a cupcake holder holding bourbon while it sits on a 100 year old cast iron skillet. The cheeseball silicon cupcake holder no longer feels so idiotic, does it?
In either regard, after 18 hours in our oven set at the lowest setting, the cupcake holders, each loaded with two ounces of bourbon, were dry. After turning the holders inside-out, I scraped the bourbon residue from the silicon. The scrapings were small, but smelled strongly of me circa Saturday early evening 2008. I added the bourbon scrapings to some coarse sea salt in a mortar and pestle.
After pounding the hell out of the salt and bourbon, the aroma was even more intense. The sweet, vanilla notes of the bourbon combined with the salt was amazing. Just opening the Weck jar filled only a few centimeters with the salt filled a room with it.
Before tasting the bourbon salt, I was concerned that it could not live up to the aroma. With tomatoes, the bourbon flavors were all in the aftertaste. It was delicious, but subtle. However, when sampled with something higher in temperature and lower in flavor, like oatmeal, it was amazing. The heat must be a catalyst for the flavors and aromas in the bourbon salt because it was not in the background anymore. Combining the oatmeal, bourbon salt, and pecans made an otherwise mundane steel cut oat breakfast into something far, far more delicious. Smelling like a drunkard while maintaining low cholesterol is just a little bonus.