Cooking with Alcohol

Cooking with Alcohol

Alcohol is an important ingredient in many recipes as it adds flavor to sauces, soups, marinades and even ice-cream. When heated, some but not all of the alcohol evaporates. To select alcohol, match the type of alcohol to the food. For instance, flavor a raspberry sorbet with raspberry liqueur. There is no reason to use very expensive spirits for cooking, but keep in mind that if it's not worth drinking, it's not worth cooking with either. If possible, avoid products labeled "cooking wine". These often contain salt, are of poor quality and taste awful.

When cooking with alcohol, be careful not to add too much. Many alcohol spirits have strong flavors that can easily overpower a dish. Begin by adding just a teaspoon or tablespoon, then taste the dish and add more if desired.

To safely add alcohol to a hot pan, always remove the pan from the heat and slowly pour in the alcohol, swirling the pan to help keep the alcohol from heating too quickly. Return the pan to low heat and continue cooking as necessary.

  • To give frozen desserts a smooth, creamy texture, add 1 to 2 teaspoons alcohol to the base. Alcohol prevents ice crystals from forming, which helps keep frozen desserts creamy. But be careful. Too much alcohol will prevent your dessert from freezing at all, and you may end up with something best enjoyed with a straw rather than with a spoon.

  • To boil off alcohol, remove a hot skillet from the heat and add 1/2 to 1 cup liquor, wine, liqueur or beer. Let the liquid in the pan boil until the vapors do not sting the inside of your nose when inhaled, about 1 minute from liquor, wine or liqueur and 30 seconds for beer.

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