About Flambe

Flambe

To ignite a sauce or other liquid so that it flames. Dishes that contain spirits can be flambéed either in the kitchen or in the dining room. Most of the time flambéing has no real function other than to delight your guests. In a professional kitchen, sauces or other liquids containing boiling spirits are ignited - usually by just tilting the pan over the stove's gas flame - as a safety precaution, so the mixture doesn't ignite unexpectedly and burn someone. Here are a few tips for flambéing dishes in your dining room.

  • Make sure everything is hot. It's impossible to flambé a cold dish by sprinkling it with spirits and trying to light it - the spirits only release their flammable fumes (the alcohol) when hot. For this reason, cook foods that you intend to flambé in heavy pots or baking dishes that will retain their heat when you take them into the dining room.

  • Ignite the spirits in the kitchen : Unless you're used to flambéing, igniting hot alcohol in the dining room can be a little scary. Instead, set the hot pot or baking dish on a trivet in the dining room and bring the alcohol - the brandy, rum or spirit-laced sauce - to a boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan in the kitchen. When the alcohol starts to boil, carefully tilt the pan toward the flame while it ignites (if you have an electric stove, use a long match), then dim the lights and march proudly into the dining room. Use a long spoon to spoon the flaming alcohol over the food.

  • Don't pour flaming spirits : With a long spoon, gently spoon the flaming spirits over the hot food. Don't ever pour the flaming liquid straight out of the pan - you'll get too many flames.

  • Shake the dish slightly to get more flame : Once you've spooned the flaming spirits over the hot food, you may notice the flames dying down very quickly. Holding the serving dish with a kitchen towel - be careful not to let the towel get into the flames - give the dish a quick shake so the flames rise up again. You can repeat this several times.

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