The sun is setting on the Coteau des Prairies near Rutland, N.D., as a herd of cows grazes along the hillside pasture just a few hundred feet from where Tony and I are sitting. It’s a Sunday, and Tony and I are trying to decide what to feature this week as PGA Golf is playing on the television in the background.
Inspired by our surroundings, I start to think about beef, and golf, and something in the back of my mind is connecting these two elements together. I mention this to Tony, who pauses and then comes up with the answer: Beef Balmoral, a new dish on our menu at Sarello’s.
We’ve roasted whole beef tenderloin or grilled sirloin steaks for this dish, but any cut of beef will work, as will chicken or pork. Boasting a nice dose of Scotch whisky along with mushrooms, whole grain mustard and cream, the rich and savory Scottish Balmoral sauce is so good the meat is really just an excuse to make it.
Thinking about golf and Scotland takes me back to one of my favorite memories with Clipper Cruise Line. In July of 1999, Tony and I were working aboard the M/V Clipper Adventurer, which had been chartered for the week by an American travel company that specialized in golf tours.
My services as a cruise director weren’t needed, so I was reassigned to the role of Zodiac driver for the charter. We frequently used the inflatable watercraft to ferry our passengers to shore, and I’d become a certified driver the previous year. I relished any chance to use my skills.
We sailed from the west of Scotland around the northern coast to finish with attendance at the British Open in Carnoustie. I’ll never forget one day in particular, when my friend Jane and I ventured ashore after several hours shuttling guests to the Open.
We were given a one-hour break to explore the vendor’s venues, but when we saw a large crowd gathering near the golf course, Jane sensed something big must be happening.
“Let’s crawl through the crowd to get a better view,” she said.
A light mist had been falling throughout the day, and the ground was damp and muddy. Cruise Director Sarah would never have considered such a ridiculous proposal, but Sarah-the-Zodiac-Driver threw caution to the wind and followed Jane as she plowed her way through the crowd on her hands and knees.
When we neared the front, Jane spotted an opening and seized it, but upon standing we realized that our view was still obstructed. Behind us was a chain link fence, which Jane started climbing to secure a better view. I had no choice but to follow her if I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. So there we were, two women in muddy rain gear, hanging wildly from a fence, giddily hoping to get a glimpse of who or what was causing the commotion.
A minute later, we had our answer as Greg Norman and Tiger Woods came onto the green together, preparing to tee off just 100 feet or so from where we were hanging. I knew then that I would never forget the moment, or Jane, and now I’ll revisit that memory every time I enjoy the deliciousness that is Beef Balmoral.
Lightly adapted from original recipe from The Witchery restaurant in Edinburgh, Scotland
4 rib-eye steaks
2 tablespoons butter
1 shallot, chopped
4 tablespoons Scotch whisky
1 teaspoon coarse grain mustard
¼ pint beef stock
4 ounces sliced mushrooms
½ pint heavy cream
¼ cup roux (butter and flour mixture), optional
A handful of fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Grill or pan fry the steaks to desired doneness and keep warm. In a separate pan, melt the butter. Sauté the chopped shallot until soft.
Add the whisky to the pan and carefully set it alight. When the flame goes out, add the grain mustard, stock and mushrooms and stir to incorporate. Add the cream and bring to a boil.
Simmer gently over medium-low heat until the sauce has reduced by half, about 20 minutes, stirring from time to time. Add the roux and stir until dissolved. Add chopped parsley just before serving. Season well. Pour over steaks to serve.
- The sauce can be prepared up to one week in advance, but add the fresh parsley just before serving.
- Excellent with beef, but also good with chicken and pork.
- Allow the Scotch whisky to burn off fully before adding the other ingredients.
- We use Crimini mushrooms, but any variety will work.
- We added the roux to thicken the sauce, but it is not included in the original version.