Cooking with alcohol
executive head chef,
We at Highclere use a lot of
wine in cooking. For 30 litres
of finished jus made from 100 litres of stock,
we use two bottles of Port and two bottles of
Madeira - both fortified wines so no bitter taste.
When we use red or white wines we always
reduce first. We never put raw wines into sauce
as it goes bitter and vinegary. The most-used wine
at Highclere is Madeira. It's great with beef, venison
and chicken and can be used raw or none-reduced.
We also use Chardonnay to cook our poached
pears with a little bit of saffron - stunning!
Matt Green Armytage, head chef
at The Crooked Well, Camberwell
The main reason I use
an alcoholic beverage
in a recipe is to impart
Alcohol causes many
foods to release
flavours that cannot be
experienced without the
alcohol interaction. I find
its addition is particularly successful with
stocks and sauces and braised meats.
Contrary to popular belief, flaming an alcoholic
substance is not themost effective way to
reduce the alcohol content. Simmering is in fact
far more effective, but you'll need time - it takes
about three hours to cook off all of the alcohol.
I use this technique when making a reduction
to add to a gravy or sauce, or perhaps when
I’m conjuring up some kind of sweet or
Scott Ferguson, catering development
Tips for cooking with beer:
Beer has wonderful
making it an excellent
choice for marinading meat.
Beer is a traditional
addition to beef stews and pies. A full-bodied
beer such as Wadworth's 6X will add layers
of deep, rich fl avour to a meaty stew.
Beer makes a wonderfully light batter coating
for fried food. The yeast in beer acts as a mild
leavening agent, causing the batter to puff up,
as well as adding a delicious, distinctive flavour.
The barley, hops, and/or malt flavour imparted
by the addition of beer to foods will naturally
depend on the amount and strength of the
beer. Dark beers, such as stout, have a much
stronger flavour than a light ale. A good recipe
using beer will have a distinctively light,
not dominating flavour in the finished dish.
Simon Haigh, head
chef at the awardwinning
Court Hotel, Royal
When using sweet and fortifi ed wines
like Madeira always deglaze with sherry
vinegar to balance out the sweetness.
When making crab sauces I usually use
Gewürztraminer to givemore depth to
Verjusmakes great sorbets or granite.
Add raw red wine to summer fruit coulis
for a deeper flavour but be careful, it will
ferment after a while!
Michael Harrison, head chef at
Evans & Peel Detective Agency,
a "mysterious speakeasy bar and
restaurant" situated on Earl's Court
Cooking with spirits
adds a whole new
dimension to food.
Instead of using
cooking wines for an
analogue wine taste in a dish you can use
delicious spirits with complex flavour
profiles to accentuate or contrast existing
fl avours. Great tasting spirits can even
become the focal point of the dish.
Depending on the flavour required I could
use a neat spirit, reduce it for concentrated
flavour, flame it to remove the bite, atomise
it over dishes as a garnish or atomise it onto
a hot surface to create vapours. Some can
be substituted for acids in dressings or
sauces. Infusing alcohols with certain
flavours is quick and easy. Using these in
cooking can add a more subtle taste than
using the fresh ingredient or it can add
this fl avour to the long fifi nish provided
by using a neat spirit.
It's not all Pimm's and lemonade though.
Strong spirits can be difficult to handle.
Good quality products can be expensive,
driving up GP and development costs.
They also have different properties to the
liquids more commonly used in the kitchen.
They are diffifi cult to freeze, they can split
sauces, discolour ingredients and change
in flavour and density in a short time,
potentially ruining a dish. However with
modernmolecular cooking techniques and
chemical stabilisation, it is a little easier.
On the plus side they have an incredibly
long shelf life.
Ben Ebbrell, head chef at SORTED
Food - the world’s largest YouTube
Don't try to re-invent the
wheel. Some flavours and
combinations are just
meant to be and they
work for a reason.
Instead of challenging
yourself to come up with
the next best cocktail combo, simply use the
knowledge that somebody else has already
perfected and change tact. For example, make
yourself a Mojito and then use it as a marinade
for chicken, or infuse a tomato soup with the
same flavours you'd associate in a Bloody
Mary, or how about a simple and refreshing
dessert concocted fromingredients
commonly found in a Cosmopolitan.
chef at the Dakota
which was voted
'Scottish Hotel of
the Year' (www.
The herrings in the recipe below work very
well due to the simplicity of the dish. The
flavours are clean, subtle and fresh with a
hint of the sherry at the end which is not
dissimilar to that of caramel.
Article taken from August 2013 issue of Stir it up magazine. Get your copy here