Choose your tipple: The best ways to cook with alcohol
People often talk about food and wine pairings; Cabernet Sauvignon is best paired with red meat, and that Pinot Grigio should always be put with fish dishes. Of course, alcohol on the table is always great, but what about pairing alcohol in the kitchen, as an ingredient?
White and red wine sauces have always been a chef favourite when it comes to adding a tipple to their dishes. However, for the non-wine drinkers (I’m sure there are a few somewhere), or for those who just prefer a different taste, there are many ways to incorporate your favourite drink into your cooking.
George Rouse, executive chef at George’s Kitchen, believes that adding some alcohol to the right dish can really enhance the flavour. Here are his top tips for adding your favourite tipple to your cooking.
Probably the most obvious way of adding alcohol to your cooking is from the wine rack. However, people are often unclear about which wine to use for which dish. As a general rule a crispy white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc is best used for lighter meat and seafood dishes, whereas a dry red such as Pinot Noir is for heavier meats such as beef and pork. Whichever wine you’re using, try not to put too much in the dish as it can be quite overpowering – a good excuse to drink the left overs!
You might be used to opening a cold one whilst grilling the BBQ but make sure you save one for the food too! Beer has natural enzymes that help tenderise meats, as a result it lends itself beautifully to be a good base for a great marinade. Try soaking your meat in the alcoholic goodness for about an hour before you get cooking. You could even go for the pub classic, beer bettered onion rings as a delicious accompaniment, just by simply adding ale to your batter recipe.
If you’re partial to the odd gin and tonic, there is something for you too. With all the botanicals that the spirit is flavoured with, it can really add a herby element to a dish. A refreshing recipe you could try is a gin and tonic infused smoked salmon. It’s best to smoke the fish separately in hickory woodchips to get the smoky flavour and then a thick marmalade infused with gin and grapefruit juice. All of these different flavours will mix together and explode your taste buds.
Due to its’ cane base, rum is always associated with sweet – everyone is familiar with the classic combo of rum and raison in desserts, whether it’s ice cream or cake, but rum can be great in savoury dishes too! Whether you’re after something with a bit of a kick or Jamaican twist, it’s a delicious ingredient to add to any glaze. A great favourite is always jerk chicken with rum glazed pineapple.
If vodka is your poison, you can do a lot more than vodka jelly in the kitchen! If you’re not shy of a Bloody Mary or two, it may not come as a surprise that vodka is great when paired with tomatoes. If you soak tomatoes in vodka before cooking with them, they will absorb the alcohol and unlock new flavours, perfect for adding a bit of kick to any tomato sauce.
You might not be a stranger to using brandy in the kitchen if you use it to flambé the Christmas pudding! However, it can be a very versatile ingredient to add to any dish. It will work with most kinds of dishes, from seafood and chicken to noodles and even mash potato! A big favourite is always mushroom chicken in a brandy sauce.
For more information on George’s Kitchen, visit georgeskitchen.co.uk.