Great Night In – Curl up with this year’s Giller winner The Bishop’s Man

To paraphrase founder Jack Rabinovitch’s famous line: for the price of a dinner out, you can buy all of this year’s Giller nominees. So stay home with Linden MacIntyre’s The Bishop’s Man, this year’s winner, and follow Zoomer’s advice for a Great Night In.

Set in a remote rural parish on Cape Breton Island, the book follows Father Duncan MacAskill, a Catholic priest intimately connected to the sex scandals of the early 90s, as he attempts to come to terms with his past and the isolation of the cloth. Duncan’s arduous journey of self-discovery is further complicated when he begins to suspect that a local boy may have been the victim of one of his depraved brethren. As he sets out to help the boy, Duncan shows us how the shameful weight of the past can either push us towards a deeper understanding of ourselves or leave us unredeemably sullied.

At a recent gathering at the Bonnie Stern School of Cooking in Toronto, MacIntyre met with a group of eager readers to discuss his novel and enjoy a great meal with a menu inspired by foods featured in The Bishop’s Man, and the book’s East Coast setting. The menu included Grilled Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Lobster Rolls in Gruyere, Apple Walnut Salad and a delicious Seafood Chowder.

Recreate Cape Breton in your kitchen with this simple recipe:

Seafood Chowder (inspired by Nettie’s Harbour Inn at Norris Point, in Gros Morne National Park)

3 tbsp (45mL) unsalted butter

1 small onion, cut in 1 cm dice

1 leek (white part only) cut in  1 cm dice

1 carrot, cut in 1 cm)dice

1 stalk celery, cut in  1 cm dice
3 tbsp (45 mL) all-purpose flour

1 Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cut into 1 cm dice

4 cups (1 L) mild fish or chicken stock, hot

1 lb (500 g) boneless, skinless halibut, haddock, sea trout or a combination, cut into large pieces
1 lb (500 g) scallops or shrimp, or cooked lobster or mussels

1/2 cup (125 mL) whipping cream

Salt and pepper to taste

Garnish – 125 g cooked bacon, crumbled, 3 green onions, thinly sliced

1. Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add onions, leeks, carrots and celery. Cook gently 3 to 5 minutes but do not brown. Sprinkle with flour and cook gently 3 to 4 minutes longer.

2. Add stock. Bring to a boil. Add potatoes, reduce heat and cook gently about 10 minutes. Add a little salt and pepper.

3. Add fish and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or just until fish turns opaque. Add scallops and shrimp and cook 2 minutes longer until shrimp curl.

4. Add cream and any cooked fish or shellfish. Heat thoroughly. Season to taste.

5. Sprinkle with bacon and green onions.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

After the culinary groundwork has been laid, grab the book and your favourite armchair and settle in with a glass of something special. ‘If you wanted to capture [protagonist] Duncan’s world,’ MacIntyre says, ‘it would be a bit of Highland Park or Balvenie (maybe a few).’ Highland Park 12-year-old (750 mL, $59.95) and The Balvenie Signature 12-year-old Single Malt (750 mL, $72.95) are both available at the LCBO.

— Evan Rosser