May Contain Affiliate Links
Everyone knows their favorite alcoholic drinks, but when it comes to choosing beverages to cook with, people tend to be a little lost. When used properly, alcohol bonds with the fat and water molecules in food to help carry the aromas and flavours. So, if you feel out your depth when choosing cooking alcohol, this handy guide is here to give you a helping hand.
Choose Your Alcohol
You can more or less use any alcohol that you would normally drink to cook with, from red wine to Fireball Whisky. However, there is no point going for the very expensive wine as the subtle flavors and nuances will be lost once you add it to your meals.
Allow it to Sink in
Alcohol tends to be especially good when you are cooking meat, as it tends to complement your dish without totally overpowering the flavor. Start off with just a small amount in your marinade as too much can negatively affect the texture of your dish. As a general rule of thumb, darker alcohols such as stout tend to pair well with darker meats such as beef. On the flip side, lighter drinks such as tequila and white wine are better with white meats like chicken or seafood.
Substitute it for Water
While you can’t always substitute alcohol for water when you are cooking, if your meal is looking a little dry, you can add a dash of beer or wine from time to time. If you are poaching fruit, this technique works particularly well as the wine is helping to amplify the sweetness that is naturally found within. If you have some overripe fruit and sugary wine, combine the two and you can make the best of these two things.
Focus on Flavor
If you have some basic ingredients that would otherwise be a little dull such as a chicken breast, try making a pan sauce to improve what would usually be a tasteless dish. Once you have cooked the meat and removed it from the pan, add in some wine or beer and dislodge the bits at the bottom to create a sauce that offers both texture and flavor.
Finish with an Alcoholic Dessert
There are plenty of dessert dishes which are improved immeasurably by a dash of alcohol. Remember not to add too much booze to your rum caramel sauce, bourbon chocolate cupcakes, or sangria sorbet as you don’t want to overpower the taste with alcohol. Essentially, it takes a bit of experimentation until you stumble upon the right combination of ingredients.
So, if you have never really cooked the alcohol before, now is the time to experiment a bit more in the kitchen. Over time, you will naturally start to become more confident and you may even begin fusing flavors that you would never have thought of before. Start off with beer and wine and see where the inspiration takes you.