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Let's talk about alcohol....

9 years ago

....used as an ingredient in your cooking. I'd estimate that I use some sort of alcoholic beverage as an ingredient in cooking about once a week or more in winter.

Ones I use most often are:
Beer - in broth for soups
Sherry - stir frying sauces, chicken dishes, pork marinades
White wine - chicken piccata, soups, poaching fish
Red wine - beef marinades, stewing meats or vegetables, pasta sauces
Bourbon - steak sauces, fruit cakes
Dark rum - baked beans, pork and chicken dishes, vegetables
Chambord - Melba sauce, fruit cups, berry dishes

Do you use alcoholic beverages as a favoring agent in your cooking? What varieties and how do you use them? Any favorite recipes where the alcoholic beverage is an essential component of the dish? (link below is for one of mine)

If you've never cooked with alcohol, why not?

Here is a link that might be useful: Sherried Chicken

Comments (32)

  • Annie Deighnaugh
    9 years ago

    From rachel ray, I add bourbon and pecans to my mashed sweet potatoes. Yum!

    I use light rum when I make krustchiki and I believe I also used it when I made a bombe one time....

    I use grand marnier in chocolate sauce that I serve over fruit and pound cake or angel food cake.

    And harvey wallbanger cake with galliano is always a hit.

  • momj47
    9 years ago

    Goodness, I use alcohol about once every 5 years in my cooking. It's too expensive to buy a bottle of whatever to use a small bit in cooking, just to waste the rest.

    I don't like the taste of alcohol and neither does my daughter, and that's all we can taste in an alcoholic beverage - it must be genetic, so we don't drink it or use it in cooking.

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  • dedtired
    9 years ago

    Hmm, I use white wine in chicken piccata and other dishes I can't think of right now. In general I don't cook with wine very much because the rest of the bottle goes bad and it is a waste. I enjoy a glass of wine when I am out but rarely at home. I know some people freeze the wine into cubes, so maybe I should try that.

    I like the taste of alcohol in food, but for some reason I don't cook with it often.

    Harvey Wallbanger cake -- have not had that since the '70's.

  • sushipup1
    9 years ago

    Wine, red or white, for deglazing a pan for the base of a sauce. Brandy for pan-grilled steaks. Bourbon in the tri-tip marinade. Red wine in the crock-pot chuck roast with onions. Beer in the crock-pot corned beef. White wine in the risotto.

    Long ago I learned to substitute water in a recipe with something that adds flavor, be it alcohol, stock, milk, juice. There aren't a lot of dishes where this isn't true.

  • annie1992
    9 years ago

    I've stopped using any. I don't like the taste of most alcohol and can taste it in anything I cook, so I don't use it. I particularly dislike beer and red wine. There are a few liquors that aren't too offensive. However, they are expensive and I don't want to buy a whole bottle just to use a couple of tablespoons in frosting or BBQ sauce.

    I've found that I can make nearly anything that calls for alcohol with some substitute or another, and so I do that.

    One daughter is pregnant, the other is on seizure meds and alcohol is forbidden, it doesn't mix well. No matter what anyone says, the alcohol does not all cook out, so no booze in my cooking. My family is particularly careful with alcohol since Amanda had an exceptionally bad experience eating the fruit out of the Sangria, even though she drank none of the beverage itself.

    I used to make that Harvey Wallbanger cake, Mom loved it, but I haven't made one in years. No one in the family likes rum, so a batch of rum balls got tossed in about March, leftover from Christmas.

    And I still have a canning jar of homemade limoncello in the fridge, waiting for Sherry and Roger to visit next month. I gave the other jar to her when we met in Chicago.

    I was told at a winery that red wine is an acquired taste. Since I don't really like it, it's relatively expensive and has little nutritive value comparatively, I don't see the reason to try to acquire a taste for it!


  • chase_gw
    9 years ago

    I always cook with wine...some times I even add it to the food !!!!!

    I often use alcohol when cooking. White wine more often that anything else. but I also use Marsala, brandy, red wine and vermouth.

    The red and white wines don't need to fuss about hanging around here too long they usually get consumed along with the meal they were added to.

    Marsala, Brandy and Vermouth last forever and ever...and ever I'm happy to have a small bottle on hand for when I need a splash.

    I'm making a Salad Nicoise for a late lunch today. It's Julia Child's recipe and it calls for splashing the cooked potatoes and cooked beans with white wine and then chilling . Never heard of that before but if Julia says so I'm in!!!

  • cloudy_christine
    9 years ago

    Some people, like Annie, really don't like wine. But I think some people may not like the wine they have had. Many people happily drink wine that is really bad, and if that's all I'd tried, I would think I didn't like wine.

    Some of my standby recipes are made with wine, and I try to plan it so there is open wine from the night before, or the wine will be drunk with that dinner. I can't get myself to make those dishes that use a whole bottle of wine. Kind of silly, but it seems too expensive. Maybe this winter.
    Years ago I got tired of spending money on wine failures, so I started keeping records. I'm in PA where the state stores are a monopoly, so except for specials, it's more expensive than it should be. In each county one of the stores is a specialty wine shop, and has a resident wine expert. I've found a lot of good things through mine. Of course in other states any reasonably good wine store has knowledgeable people. I'm just glad the ridiculous PA situation has improved over what it was years ago.
    For me there are some things that can hardly be eaten without wine. What else is there to drink with fish or seafood, or Greek salad?
    I use medium sherry in my standby Spanish Roast Chicken.
    And lots of brandy in Christmas baking. I don't like whiskey.

  • dcarch7 d c f l a s h 7 @ y a h o o . c o m
    9 years ago

    "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak" translates to another language using a translation software:

    "The wine is very good, but the meat is lousy."

    I have many kinds of wine for cooking. I use wine in most meat recipes.

    1. I don't believe in using good wine for cooking.

    2. Cooking cannot evaporate all the alcohol. Be careful serving to children.

    3. Some religions prohibit alcohol, not one drop. Becareful when you invite friends.


  • triciae
    9 years ago

    We do not consume any alcohol by the glass so we do not have any in the house. DH drinks a beer or a glass of wine a couple times a year so if they are around I might toss a small bit into a braise or pasta dish. I've never drank but now due to medications am not supposed to consume alcohol at all so it's rare for me to even toss a beer into a pot of chili.

    Annie's right, it does not all cook off. I do not care for the taste and think some of them are actually quite awful. If I'm going to consume calories I want them to be from something I enjoy. I've also learned to make substitutions.

    At a restaurant, I always ask about preparation because I've learned the hard way that sometimes a touch of alcohol is used and doesn't make it's way to the printed menu especially Mom/Pop type places.


  • triciae
    9 years ago

    Oh, I forgot! We keep a bottle of whiskey on the boat under lock and key for medical emergencies. DH is captain and therefore, of course, also the surgeon if necessary. Thankfully, we've never had to use it. :)


  • chase_gw
    9 years ago

    Darch I only use wine I would drink in my cooking...mostly becasue I splash it in the dish and we have the rest with dinner.

    If I didn't use a good wine in my cooking...what would I do with the rest of the bottle? Wine does not keep for long.

  • Annie Deighnaugh
    9 years ago

    I use dry vermouth when I make scallops meuniere.

    And america's test kitchen swears by vodka to make the perfect pie crust, though I haven't tried it.

    And for an upset tummy, nothing beats a shot of blackberry brandy.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Foolproof pie crust

  • Rusty
    9 years ago

    I don't drink any type of alcohol,
    Just don't care for it.
    Years ago, as a 'youngster',
    I did enjoy a beer now & then, or a Tom Collins,
    But haven't had any in a very long time.
    Seems like when I try to drink it,
    All I can taste is the alcohol.
    When it's in a cooked dish, most of that is gone,
    leaving the flavor of the beverage.

    I've never cared for wine, and I have, long ago,
    tried many kinds.

    But I do, on occasion, cook with it.
    In fact, I love most dishes prepared with
    some type of alcohol as an ingredient!
    Weird, huh?

    Anyhow, like a couple others here,
    I find it too expensive to cook with very often.
    Except for Bourbon in Bourbon Pecan Cake,
    rum in Rum Pound Cake,
    or Chocolate Rum Balls
    And a few others in other 'special' recipes at Christmas,
    I rarely use it.

    I do, on occasion, make Beer Bread,
    And the ONLY way, (IMHO, anyway)
    to boil shrimp for "U Peel 'em" shrimp, is in beer! ! !
    And smoked fish are brined in beer.

    Oh, and don't forget the splash or two of Sauterne
    in the Oyster Stew or Clam Chowder,
    And especially the Oyster dressing at Christmas!


  • Cloud Swift
    9 years ago

    I love bourbon in bread pudding - I don't drink bourbon but like it in desserts and a bottle of it doesn't go bad even though I use only a little occasionally for cooking. If I'm going to drink whiskey, I'd rather have Irish or a not too peaty Scotch.

    I've used vodka in pie crust - or sometimes another alcohol that is compatible with the pie filling - e.g. Alton Brown has an apple pie recipe where he uses Apple Jack in the crust.

    Vanilla extract and other extracts normally are alcohol based - alcohol is good at carrying many flavors.

    Dry white wine in cheese fondue.
    Sometimes I use red wine in stews or as part of the braising liquid for red meat. Sometimes a white wine for a less assertive flavor depending what else is going in to the dish.

    I won't cook with a wine that I wouldn't drink. Not that I'd use a $100 bottle (if I had one -which I don't) but it needs to be at least a nice drinkable table wine.

  • sushipup1
    9 years ago

    You all know that you can buy miniatures of many different liquors at a well-stock liquor store, don't you? There is a huge selection at BevMo, maybe not so in a small market, tho. Usually just enough for some recipes. No need to buy a large bottle.

    And I can't imagine not drinking the wine with dinner. What leftovers? ;-)

  • annie1992
    9 years ago

    sushipup, would you believe there is not a "well stocked liquor store" anywhere in this county? Not one that sells little miniature bottles of liquor, at least. I did buy a couple at a specialty market in Grand Rapids, but that's 100 miles, round trip. I bought a small bottle of vodka to make the pie crust that Cook's Illustrated developed (after Nancy posted it), but I didn't really think it was any better than other pie pastry so don't keep vodka on hand for it.

    Having owned a bar and grille for nearly 20 years, I think I've pretty much tried every beer/wine/liquor available. I just can't learn to like it.

    Elery says I have my own wine rating scale. The best it gets is "I didn't have to spit it out", or "that wasn't completely awful". (grin) I tried to like hard cider too, but just couldn't get there.

    So, I drink coffee or water or Diet Coke, sometimes milk, seldom juice. It's fine for me, although other people say how badly they feel for me while I'm sipping my glass of water or Diet Coke.


  • tami_ohio
    9 years ago

    Annie, don't feel bad about not drinking any of it! I enjoy it, but it doesn't take but a thimble full and I'm done, so most of the time it isn't worth it.

    That said, I've been cooking with bourbon, since before Jack Daniels started cooking with it. If it's meat, bourbon goes in it. Beans too. If I happen to have a bottle of wine open, I will use that. Unless the gkids will be eating what I am cooking.

    I don't even want to smell rum. Before getting PG with DD, all I drank was rum and coke. Now just the smell of rum (30 years later) makes me sick.


  • dcarch7 d c f l a s h 7 @ y a h o o . c o m
    9 years ago

    What do people cook with in "Dry" towns?


  • John Liu
    9 years ago

    I cook with sake often, in simmered dishes. Chinese rice wine is usually part of a stir fry sauce.

    In stews I'll usually use wine or beer instead of water, actually my rule is to never use water (because it is tasteless; we don't want tasteless).

    I tend not to do the classic white wine and butter thing too much, mostly because I've gotten surprised with the dairy then curdling. I'd rather have a smooth reliable cream sauce without whatever the wine adds. Also I don't really drink white wine much, so what am I supposed to do with the rest of the bottle?

    I seldom use hard liquor, well except for Amaretto with almonds, asparagus, etc and except for Grand Marnier in a sauce for tenderloin and other fancy meats.

    When cooking for dinner parties, I do drink, a scotch or beer always at my side - I figure that I'm so busy that I don't get to sit down for the actual food or enjoy the wine, so I need to get my calories and ETOH somehow . . . As a result, there is a regular group of guys (and one lady) who hang out in the kitchen drinking while I cook. For some reason, they are mostly of Irish descent.

  • ruthanna_gw
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Since we don't drink wine with dinner, except when we have guests, so if I'm cooking with wine, I'll try to cook a few dishes using the same wine in a row when I open a bottle of it and reduce the rest for a sauce and freeze it.

    It's not the greatest wine but I also keep a four-pack of both white and red 6 oz. bottles of wine for cooking when I don't want to open a full sized bottle.

    Rum, bourbon or liqueurs like Cointreau keep for a long time so no problem for me to have them on hand.

    This chicken dish made with rum is cooking in the oven now.


    4 bone-in chicken or boneless chicken breasts or 1 cut up chicken
    1/4 cup melted butter or margarine
    1/4 cup honey
    1/2 cup orange juice
    2 Tbs. prepared Dijon mustard
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1 tsp. curry powder (I use Penzey's Maharajah blend)
    2 Tbs. dark rum

    Place chicken skin side up in shallow baking dish and preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine remaining ingredients, stirring well. Pour sauce over chicken. Bake for one hour (40 min. for boneless breasts, depending on size), basting occasionally with sauce.

    Note: I usually use skinless bone-in breasts so I turn them over halfway through the cooking time. I also melt the butter in a pyrex measuring cup in the microwave and then add the honey and orange juice directly to it so I don't dirty extra measuring cups.

  • bunnyman
    9 years ago

    I mix up my own bbq sauce and it is best with a shot of Jim Beam in it. While it does not cook out I consider it work safe even with my meds. Because it is a sauce a "serving" is probably .005 ounces of alcohol.

    Certainly anything made with vanilla extract has alcohol in it! So my soda bread and oatmeal cookies at laced. Again I consider them work safe. A pg friend had a craving for my oatmeal cookies and over 9 months I made her three batches. I worried more about exposing her to that much vanilla.. which is an addictive stimulant drug if abused. Baby is a small child now and seems very happy and normal in every way.

    If I'm going to store raw chicken in the fridge I put it in a ziplock baggie with a couple shots of burbon. Slosh it around good and it both marinades and keeps the chicken fresh. I'm always paranoid about chicken and germs so I like that the alcohol keeps the germs to drunk to eat any of my bird meat.

    At the moment I'm dealing with a painful unknown abdominal issue and just the thought of booze makes me feel ill. Hopefully I heal up soon and go back to the world of work with the food and booze that comes with it.

    : )

  • Linderhof1208
    9 years ago

    I have a whole shelf in my pantry devoted to "cooking" alcohol -- maderia, sherry, Grand Marnier, Whidby Island Loganberry Liqueur, brandy, raspberry liqueur, marsala, cognac and then if I need bourbon or Scotch, I raid the drinks bar!

    I usually use Vermouth for white wine and if I need red wine, I open a bottle and we drink the rest with dinner!


  • sally2_gw
    9 years ago

    I'm another one that uses wine occasionally to cook with. I'd use it more often, but I'm usually cooking for my grandson too. Like Sharon and others, If I'm going to open a bottle of wine to cook with, I'm going to drink it, too, so it has to taste good. I also don't see the point in using a bad tasting ingredient to try to make a good tasting dish.

    I love Lars' Danish Butter Cookies, and they call for Amaretto. I keep it around just for those cookies. It's good, also, added to hot cocoa in the winter time. I keep Gran Marnier around for adding to chocolate. I have added bourbon to butternut squash dishes. I can see how it would be good with sweet potatoes, too.


  • dcarch7 d c f l a s h 7 @ y a h o o . c o m
    9 years ago

    "----If I'm going to store raw chicken in the fridge I put it in a ziplock baggie with a couple shots of burbon. Slosh it around good and it both marinades and keeps the chicken fresh.---"

    A great start for the "drunken chicken" recipe.

    Also, according to a few studies, no one can tell the difference if it's good or bad wine after the food has been cooked.


  • sally2_gw
    9 years ago

    Well, if I ever make a recipe that calls for a whole bottle of wine, I will consider using a cheap bottle...actually, I have to confess that's all I ever get, anyway, but some cheap wine is better than others. If I'm going to drink what I don't cook with, I want to drink something that tastes good.


  • annie1992
    9 years ago

    Michael, I've been using water extracted vanilla from La Vencedora, a gift from Readinglady. It smells so good I'm tempted to use it for perfume! (grin)

    No alcohol added.


  • mustangs81
    9 years ago

    I had a beer once.

    I use alcohol when I cook but don't drink it; well I did have some of Ducanoe's homemade Lemoncello. I use about the same variety as Linderhof.

    I was making bourbon pecan sweet potato casserole for Thanksgiving dinner and asked the HG to get the bourbon from the liquor cabinet. He paused for awhile, then said "we have a liquor cabinet?"

    I use beer in Caribbean Chili.

  • flazoom
    9 years ago

    I use hard cider as one of the base ingredients in sauces for chicken or pork.
    1/2 part hard cider (I like one with a strong apple flavor)
    1/2 part chicken stock add rue, minced shallot and any spices you prefer. and simmer for 1-2 hours to thicken. (a veloute of sorts). I usually add fruit for the last 1/2 hour (peeled chopped apples or blueberries for example) Serve with a nice pork roast

  • cloudy_christine
    9 years ago

    I wish I could get hold of the dry hard cider used in French cooking. There's a pork dish from Normandy mentioned In Madeleine Kamman's When French Women Cook that I would like to make. Even outside PA, all I see available is sweet.

  • triciae
    9 years ago


    You could try B.F. Clyde's Cider Mill in Mystic at 129 N. Stonington Rd., Old Mystic, 06372. Highway Access: (I-95 Ex. 90) Phone: (860) 536-3354

    Their cider is made by the last steam powered cider mill remaining in the US and the oldest producer of hard cider, since 1881. They are also a National Mechanical Engineering Landmark.

    Clyde's may very well have what you're looking for? If they do - I can pick it up for you & mail. We're there every fall for cider season. Less than 5 miles from home.


  • mustangs81
    9 years ago

    I just remember this recipe:

    Wild Turkey Fruit Salad (from Texas Seth)
    1 Fresh pineapple
    4 Bosc Pears
    2 Pomegranates
    1/3 Cup Pecan Halves
    *1-1/2oz Wild Turkey Liqueur
    1/3 Cup Honey

    Peel, core, and chunk the pineapple into bite size pieces
    Hull the pomegranates and get the berries out.

    Core and slice the Bosc pears into bite size pieces, peel if you like.

    Mix the honey and the liqueur and pour over the fruits
    after mixing the fruits up.

    Let sit in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before time to eat and then put the pecan halves over the top before serving.
    That keeps the juices from dampening the pecans.

    *Make sure it is the sweeter Wild Turkey Liqueur and not the Wild Turkey Bourbon.

  • cloudy_christine
    9 years ago

    Tricia, thank you. I'll look into Clyde's. I never think of cider mills producing hard cider -- but why not.