Cooking with alcohol
Wine, especially, is used as an ingredient for its acidic properties, for the bitterness of its tannins, and for its fruit components. Beer and liqueurs are also commonly used as alcoholic ingredients. For a flambé, in which warm alcohol is ignited, the higher alcohol content of a distilled spirit is required.
As an ingredient
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Many dishes incorporate alcoholic beverages into the food itself. Such dishes include coq au vin, chicken cacciatore, and boeuf bourguignon. More modern examples are beer grilled chicken and bratwursts boiled in beer. Adding beer, instead of water, to chili during cooking is popular. An overnight marinade of chicken, pork or beef in beer and spices is another example.
Specialist cooking wines, liqueurs, vermouths and eaux de vie are widely used by professional chefs to enhance flavour in traditional and modern dishes. These are specially created to be an ingredient in cooking, not a beverage. As well as offering excellent value for money, they have a longer shelf life which avoids wastage. The addition of specialist cooking wines, liqueurs and vermouths adds flavour to finished meat and fish dishes; desserts benefit from the use of sweet or dry wines. In addition, the use of specialist cooking wine in marinades can tenderise meat and is of particular benefit to game dishes. Many chefs discourage serving the same alcoholic beverage with the meal that was cooked using it.
A variation of the flambé tradition is employed in Japanese teppanyaki restaurants where a spirit is poured onto the griddle and then lit, providing both a dramatic start to the cooking, and a residue on the griddle which indicates to the chef which parts of the griddle are hottest.
Alcohol in finished food
A study by a team of researchers at the University of Idaho, Washington State University, and the US Department of Agriculture's Nutrient Data Laboratory calculated the percentage of alcohol remaining in a dish based on various cooking methods. The results are as follows:
- alcohol added to boiling liquid and removed from heat: 85% alcohol retained
- alcohol flamed: 75% alcohol retained
- no heat, stored overnight: 70% alcohol retained
- baked, 25 minutes, alcohol not stirred into mixture: 45% alcohol retained
- baked/simmered, alcohol stirred into mixture: (see table)
|Time (h)||Alcohol retained|
Alcohol as cooking fuel
Alcohol stoves became popular on boats as an alternative to dangerous kerosene stoves. Although denatured alcohol is more expensive than other fuels, and puts out less heat, it is often preferred as a marine stove for safety reasons. Alcohol stoves have also become popular as camp stoves because alcohol is environmentally friendly to burn.
A beverage-can stove is an example of a very lightweight alcohol stove for camping.
- "How to Properly Flambé Without Burning Your Food". WonderHowTo. Retrieved 2017-01-04.
- USDA Table of Nutrient Retention Factors, Release 6 (PDF) (Report). U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2007. p. 12.
- Augustin J, Augustin E, Cutrufelli RL, Hagen SR, Teitzel C (1992). "Alcohol Retention in Food Preparation". Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 92 (4): 486–8. PMID 1556354.
- Vigor, John (2005). Things I Wish I'd Known Before I Started Sailing. Dobbs Ferry, NY: Sheridan House. p. 30. ISBN 1574092111.
- Berger, Karen (March–April 2003). "Camp Stoves". Scouting. Boy Scouts of America, Inc. 91 (2): 37. Retrieved 28 November 2012.