Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Technique Tuesday: Cooking with Wine

One of my favorite secret weapons in the kitchen is wine. The right wine can make take so many dishes from simply edible to memorable and incredible. From appetizers to desserts, wine has a place in all courses. By following a few basic rules about using wine when cooking, you can add so much to your cooking repetoire! The most important thing to remember when cooking with wine is that you should never use wine you wouldn't drink. Stay far away from anything labeled "cooking wine". These products are high in sodium and can easily ruin what could have been an amazing dish. Lower quality wines produce lower quality dishes. This doesn't mean that you have to break the bank on your wine choice; just make sure the wine is something you would drink at the table. Remember, you are condensing the flavor of the wine you choose, so choose your wine wisely!

Pay attention to the type of wine you are using. Just like you wouldn't use a habanero in a traditional macaroni salad, you wouldn't use port in an arrabbiata. Sweet wines impart a very different flavor than dry, and whites lend a different flavor than reds. You'll get the hang of which types of wine are used in which recipes as you use them more frequently.

Don't worry about allowing your children to eat most recipes containing wine. If the wine is cooked, the alcoholic content will evaporate. You will be left with delicious wine flavor with none of the effects of actually drinking wine.

Make sure you are only adding wine to a pan that has been removed from the heat. The alcohol in wine can cause a flare up if met with a flame, so make sure that you're not returning a pan to heat until the wine is safely inside.

Keep your pantry well stocked with a few basics. It sounds pretty obvious, but you will be much more likely to use what you keep on hand. My favorites are: marsala, cabernet, pinot grigio, and tawny port. You can make so many yummy appetizers, entrees and desserts with just these four wines!

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