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Cooking with wine can add flavor and depth to your dish. It can also tenderize meat and be the perfect ingredient to your salad dressing. Learn more in this introduction to cooking with wine.
Introduction To Cooking With Wine
Top chefs don’t cook with wine because of culinary snobbery, or to boost restaurant prices, they know that wine lifts ordinary ingredients to a higher plane.
The wine itself adds flavor to your dish, and, the alcohol content draws out the flavors of the ingredients themselves.
Home cooks can take further advantage of this almost magical property by adding it to cheaper cuts of meat that usually require longer cooking times. The wine helps break down fibers in tougher cuts of meat, thus tenderizing and boosting taste simultaneously. If you are using wine as part of a marinade, only use it for a few hours and be sure to discard it before cooking, unless you plan on cooking the marinade for an extended period. These properties combined make wine an ideal liquid for the slow cooker.
How To Cook With Wine
There are no special methods or secret chef’s tricks involved. You can substitute wine for all, or part, of the liquid ingredient in any of your favorite stew, casserole or sauce recipes; then cook as normal. The good news is that it may even be a healthy substitute. Removing fat from meat also removes moisture. Wine replaces this in a much less fattening form.
There are often a few open bottles of wine left over after the holidays; use one in a warming winter stew. Maybe you didn’t quite finish last night’s bottle; add the remains to a Crock-Pot concoction before heading off for work. You can also freeze leftover wine in an ice cube tray and then simply pop out a cube or two when you want to add a little extra flavor to a dish. When making gravy, add a splash from the bottle you opened for dinner. I love using wines in my homemade salad dressings too, the acidity makes for a delightful balance.
How To Choose Which Wine To Cook With
The first rule for beginners is not to worry. The second one don’t use wine that you wouldn’t drink; if it is no good in a glass, it will almost certainly ruin your dish as well. The third one is that I don’t recommend using “cooking wines” which tend to be particularly poor quality. Other than that, not much can go wrong, and your choice of wine can be made as much on availability as anything else. Don’t feel as though you have to use a really expensive bottle of wine though, typically I grab some from the bottle I have open because I am drinking it.
Clearly, there are differences between wines, not just in color. Anyone who has had the misfortune to spill red wine down the front of a clean, crisp white blouse knows how deeply it can stain (check out these methods to remove red wine stains if this happens to you). The same applies to foods. If you are looking for a delicately hued cream sauce, white wine is the way to go, although robust reds can produce some very interesting pink sauces. The most versatile wines are crisp, dry, unoaked white wines such as Pinot Grigio, but feel free to experiment.
Taking choice a step further, without enrolling on a wine master’s course, just read the label. Many bottles of wine have lots of useful information, usually on the back, describing the wine, its qualities, and the complexity of tastes. A qualified wine taster has already done the groundwork research for you, well somebody has to do it. If this tells you there is a distinct apple flavor, try it in a pork chop casserole as apples and pork traditionally complement one another.
One problem that does arise; does the alcohol content evaporate during the cooking process? It used to be thought yes, but, as with so many issues surrounding food, the jury is now divided. Those who do not touch alcohol for any reason might be well-advised not to use it in the kitchen.
Comforting, warming, tasty and sophisticated, wine in the kitchen adds all these qualities and more. And it is so easy to use. Cheers!
Do you cook with wine? What is one of your rules for cooking with wine?
My #1 rule is if you wouldn’t drink it, you definitely shouldn’t cook with it.