Cooking with Alcoholic Beverages
Imaginative chefs have used wine, spirits, and liqueurs for centuries. These beverages help create flavourful, and memorable dishes. Many young and poorly informed cooks think that if old, oxidized, undrinkable, or otherwise inferior quality wines is used, the results will be the same. Nothing can be further from the truth.
When you use wine in cooking, ideally you should use the same wine you intend to drink. Failing that, chose a wine of good quality with sufficient acidity and flavour to noticeably, and positively change both the texture and flavour of your sauce.
Most recipes specify only dry white or red wine. But which one? Here are a few suggestions –
Match the wine with the strongest flavour in the recipe i.e deeply flavoured red wine for stews, and acid-driven chardonnay or racy dry riesling with a cream sauce delicate fillet of Dover sole, or Pernod with pan-fried scallops.
If you want to poach pears in red wine, select a fruity gamay, or better yet a Beaujolais village quality level and you will taste the difference.
When you use any alcoholic beverage in cooking, much of the alcohol evaporates, thus concentrating the flavour. If you start with off-smelling product, the unpleasant flavour will become even more pronounced.
It is best to select a wine form the region where the recipe was first created. It seems nature has already made the selection. All cooks have to do is to match the texture and flavour of the food to the wine.
Spirits beers, and wine can be sued to tenderize though meat cuts. While this process goes on, flavour penetrates the meat and makes it more appealing.
Similarly, if you can make a batter with stale beer ((lager recommended) and use it for fish fillets. You will be pleasantly surprised how good a humdrum fillet of sole tastes when prepared this way
Use a splash of dry sherry in your consommé or vegetable soup cooked with real chicken stock and see how the flavour changes for the better.
Madeira is another excellent wine you can use in cooking or baking. Just make sure it is dry.
When cooking with alcoholic beverages remember a little goes a long way. Too much may ruin the dish.
Of course you can always flame crepes with cognac and enhance it Grand Marnier, or similarly rum for bananas and pineapple chunks, apples with calvados and cream, peaches with cognac and peach liqueurs, and pears with eau-de-vie of pear ad pear liqueur.
If you want to cerate the perfect make-in-advance dessert, make a crème de menthe parfait, or use Chambord or Grand Marnier.