A jigger of this, a splash of that… Top chefs often pour wine, beer, or liquor into their culinary creations. Spirits can be a chef’s best friend, adding depths of flavor and richness to dishes both savory and sweet. Alcohol mellows out gaminess or other strong aromas in meats; it acts as a tenderizer; and it also fortifies the flavor of fruits and fresh herbs in dishes.
Yet, cooking with booze need not taste or make one feel “boozy.” Much of the intoxicating alcohol cooks off during prolonged cooking times, and in general a little goes a long way. The main rule is simple: alcohol should enhance, not dominate a dish. If you taste the booze above everything else, then you’ve used too much.
Learning to cook with the Northwest’s wealth of liquid assets is not difficult, but it is an intuitive process that can intimidate home chefs. As with any culinary skill, there are a few tips that can guide home chefs and help them tipple like the pros.
From the September/October 2009 issue of Northwest Palate magazine
By Ashley Gartland and Lizzy Caston
Photos by David Lanthan Reamer