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Burton Living X Blackthorn Sea Salt

Hello everyone and welcome to yet another Burton Living blog post and in honour of St. Andrews day (and unlike our previous blog posts), we’ll be delving into the world of Blackthorn sea salt and sharing the perfect winter warmer recipe, which can be produced on one of our outdoor kitchens or even via one of the various outdoor living products we have on sale online or within our own showroom.

First, a brief history lesson on Blackthorn Sea Salt before we get stuck into the really fun stuff.

Blackthorn Sea salt is a slow, gentle and sustainable art of producing and harvesting sea salt for culinarily use, by using an age old, traditional method of trickling sea water onto thorn bushels using 56 wooden taps and adapting the flow rate of each said tap, up to 3 or 4 times per day, depending on the wind speed, temperature and weather conditions. (That’s what we call dedicated work)

The thorn bushels are held and stored within Blackthorn tower itself and use the sole power of the wind and sun to aid in evaporating the moisture (over 90% with this method alone), which then leaves behind salt crystals, which fall into the saturated brine pans below and once it is deemed time, the salt flakes are then harvested.

It is said that the thorn bushels only need replacing on average 7 to 10 years, sometimes longer, but this purely due to the effects of the sea water on bushels and once the old bushels have reached the end of their life span, they are turned to mulch to add key minerals back into the earth, which is perfect for fertilising fields.

Gregorie and Whirly Marshall, and not forgetting Master salter: Malky; are all proud to have brought salt making back home to the West Coast of Scotland, where such was once a local industry and an essential part to the daily lives of its people before them, however before we find ourselves in the present time of 2023, we must take ourselves back to the 6th century, where the first graduation towers were built and rather than using thorn bushels, they relied heavily apon straw, however using this method, resulted in some rather disappointing and negative results, due to the straw rotting, which in turn, fouled the brine below.

As time moved forwards towards latter centuries, so did the methods of cultivating the salt and with it, blackthorn bushels were put forward and used to a remarkable advantage, not only for their hardiness and unwavering strength but for their ability to remain in use for much lengthier periods of time.

However in todays modern world, there are few, enormous and working examples of such towers (based in Germany and Poland), however these no longer mass produce salt as they previously would’ve done for their forefathers but instead are used as homes for spas and respites, for both tourist and local alike, many of which suffer from respiratory issues, who come to breathe the briney air, as such is believed to have health benefits for those with such breathing issues.

The methods and means may have changed in some ways from which their ancestors produced salt before them, but those who embrace and appreciate the past of Blackthorn, also embrace its present practise and look heartily to its future and they strongly believe that those forefathers before them, would be proud of their achievements and to see the success of what Blackthorn Salt is today.

Now, let’s get to the cooking and warm those cockles by the fire and focus on what will be the tantalising and traditional, Scottish dish known as Cullen Skink.

Cullen Skink is a thick soup made up of Smoked haddock, potato and onion.

Now the name of this soup comes from Cullen, a small town in the northeast of Scotland and Skink is the Scottish term for a knuckle, shin, or hough of beef, so most soups of the time, made in these parts of Scotland would be referred to as Skink, however when people in northern Scotland were unable to find scraps of beef due to economic hardship and so, they turned to fish, as they had a plentiful supply to cook.

When it came to using Haddock, it was a no brainier, as such could be found in an abundance everywhere and meat stews of the past, were transformed and became fish based soups, but as with most things, the name itself stuck.

In our Burton Living version of this famous recipe, we will be chunks of potato, as we like things a little more rustic but again, those of you who want a thicker, creamier soup, you can of course use mashed potato instead.

The best potatoes for our Skink would be a waxier type of potato, such as Charlotte, Jersey Royals and Victoria, rather than those regularly used for mash.

This rather unique and delicious dish will feed up to four individuals rather heartily on a rather chilly, winters morn.

(Please note: The recipe below can be achieved on a conventional oven following the same methods detailed, you do not need to purchase a Kamado Joe to make it happen but we wouldn’t complain if you did…)

For our Burton Living x Blackthorn salt: Cullen Skink recipe, you will need:

2 and 1/2 cups of milk. (Now for this recipe, you can use either full fat milk or semi skimmed, for me personally, I’d use semi skimmed but again, this to personal preference.)

1/4 cup of fresh parsley

1 bay leaf

1 pound of smoked (un-dyed) haddock

1 medium, rough chopped onion

2 ounces of unsalted butter (This again is to personal preference but in my opinion, I would use something like Lurpak, which is unique in flavour and will add to the soup.)

8 ounces of Jersey Royal potato, cut into rough chunks.

(Of course, this is to personal preference but you can use whichever potato you like and it can even be mashed, as we said above.)

Ground black pepper (to taste)

Blackthorn sea salt (to taste)

How to:

  1. Gather the ingredients all together.

  2. Put the milk, parsley stalks and bay leaf, as well as the whole piece of haddock into a large saucepan. (Please ensure it is not a wooden handle, as you will lose such to the flame of the Kamado Joe.)

  3. Finely chop the parsley leaves and set them aside.

  4. Bring the milk to a gentle and steady boil over a medium heat and once this is achieved, lower the heat to low simmer, for about 3 minutes. This can be achieved by adjusting the vents to an almost closed position, in which you will achieve a low and slow* setting with your Kamado Joe. (However when following the process of allowing the milk to simmer, we recommend checking the status of such by lifting the top of the Joe once the three minutes have passed.)

  5. Once the three minutes of a low simmer have been achieved, remove the pan from the heat and set aside on a heat proof surface for at least 5 to 10 minutes, allowing the flavours from the herbs and haddock to infuse into the milk.

  6. Once the 5 to 10 minutes have passed, go on to remove the haddock from the milk with a slotted spatula and set aside onto a plate.

  7. Once you have done so, go on to strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer and discard of the left over herbs.

  8. In another large saucepan, (which you will need to add to a medium to low heat,) add the butter and the thick cut onion.

  9. Cook this gently until the butter has melted and the onion has become translucent, please be careful not to burn the onion. (We’ve all been there…)

  10. Next add the infused milk and the potato chunks into the onion and butter mixture and stir until the potatoes have broken down and the soup begins to thicken slightly.

  11. Now flake the smoked haddock into bite sized chunks, removing any bones and add the left over haddock to the soup mixture. (Throwing away the bones)

  12. Next lower the heat to a gentle simmer, this again can be achieved by closing the vents further still and essentially starving the Kamado Joe of oxygen.

  13. Once the simmer has been achieved, go on to add the remaining chopped parsley and cook until the haddock has warmed through but please be aware and to not over-stir the mixture as the fish chunks may disintegrate.

  14. Season with Blackthorn sea salt and ground black pepper to taste but be careful when using the salt, as the haddock itself will have quite a salty flavor all of its own.

  15. Garnish the soup with the remaining parsley leaves and add more freshly ground black pepper (if so desired) and serve with thick cut, crusty bread (We highly recommend bread from our neighbours at Hellraisers bakery and farm shop.)

And there you have it, a beautiful and delicious way to warm yourself up whilst sitting in your new outdoor living space from us at Burton Living and I would like to say a huge and personal Thank you to Gregorie and Whirly Marshall, Master Salter: Malky and not forgetting Abbie and co, over at Blackthorn who supplied us with such delicious and wonderfully adaptable, sea salt, all of whom without them, this blog post possible wouldn’t have been possible.

(Left to right: ‘The Hairy Bikers’ Si King and Dave Myers pictured with Whirly, Gregorie and Malky of Blackthorn.)

Let us raise a glass of single malt in their honour and thanks: Slàinte Mhath!

*Low and slow cooking does take practise but can be achieved.

(Like any cooking method, its truly an art form within itself.)


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