How To Get That Alcohol To Enhance Your Meal

We all love a good pre-dinner cocktail or digestif after a delectable meal. However, the idea of cooking the meal itself with alcohol is a sorely underrated one. According to Food52, cooking with alcohol not only contributes its own flavor to the dish, but it also bonds with fat and water molecules, enhancing the flavor and aroma of the meat and sauce. Here are a few tips to making that alcohol really work for you in your culinary school programs:

Choose a booze
The type of dish you’re making should be the deciding factor when it comes to choosing your alcohol. Don’t use the most expensive wine in your cellar, since the heat will cause some of the alcohol to evaporate, but you also don’t have to use cheap, bottom-shelf stuff that you wouldn’t drink. The exception is to use any alcohol  you’ve received as a gift, but don’t enjoy drinking.

Food52 suggests using dark alcohols with dark meats like pork or beef, while you should choose clear or light ones like gin or white wine for lighter meats and seafoods.

“Cooking with booze doesn’t always cause the alcohol to burn off.”

If you want to retain the alcohol
You probably noticed that the above section stated that heat will cause “some” alcohol to evaporate when you cook with it. An old wives’ tale states that cooking with booze will cause most of the alcohol to burn off. However, this isn’t always the case, depending on the way you’re cooking it. According to Fine Cooking, flambeing is the ultimate way to retain most of the alcohol – approximately 75 percent of it. Simmering is the best way to significantly reduce the alcohol content.

Make a sauce
While there are countless ways you can work a splash of wine or a bit of beer into your food, the ultimate option is to make a sauce out of it. For your entree, consider this white wine sauce from Jo Cooks, made with wine, cream and garlic. Use this to cover a simple pasta dish or chicken breast. If you want to work liquor into your dessert, you can achieve a sweet and savory sauce for bread pudding from Pinch of Yum with just heavy cream, sugar, butter and rum.

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