December IOTM: Cooking with Spirit(s)

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December IOTM: Cooking with Spirit(s)

Postby Jenise » Mon Nov 27, 2006 6:41 pm

With thanks to Cynthia Wenslow who helped choose this topic, this month we're going to do some spirited cooking. You know, booze. Hooch. The hard stuff. Distilled alcohols which would include but are not limited to the likes of brandy, gin, whiskey, vodka, rum and tequila. Pernod and the like, with alcohols at around 40%, qualify too, but we don't mean to get into the sweet, candy-flavor alcohols and schanpps.

Don't know about you, but outside of brandy for the occasional Steak Diane or to light some lobster shells on fire, I just don't cook with the hard stuff.

Apparently the rest of the world hasn't had the same problem. Cooks Illustrated recently devoted an entire article to what they deemed a new American classic: penne with vodka sauce. This recipe was the winner of some vodka brand's recipe contest in the early 70's and became a huge hit. So huge that you can even buy the sauce pre-made off the supermarket shelf, a la Paul Newman or Ragu. The sauce workds because vodka, says Cooks, has a real affinity for tomatoes.

Kentuckians have been pouring bourbon into their BBQ sauce for years. Crab-Whisky soup is a popular recipe among fish houses, whisky sauces are poured over bread puddings, and rums and brandies find their way into baked goods. There are lots of ways to use these gentlemanly drinks, but some of us just haven't gotten around to finding out.

As I said, guilty. A recent article about vacationing in Nantucket in Saveur magazine had a recipe that caught my eye. It involved a whole roasted fish filet topped with finely diced onion, lime juice, butter, and half a cup of gin. That's not a conservative amount and it's not going to fade into the background--which is good. I can't quite imagine what that tastes like but for the sake of both an expanded horizon and an improved repertoire, this month I'm going to find out. That is, if I can find a good piece of fresh fish, which is not easy this time of year where I live.

Although it's not likely to be an issue for the readers of this forum, even modest alcohol content can be an issue for religious or health reasons of the people we cook for, so something that's important to address is the extent to which alcohol "burns off". It's widely accepted that exposure to heat dissipates alcohol quickly. In fact, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Nutrient Data Laboratory is does not--yes, where the harsh taste alcohol can have does does blow off somewhat quickly, the inebriatory effects remain in greater quantity than most of us probably realize. Here's their table, by method, with the alcohol remaining afterward in percentage:

alcohol added to boiling liquid & removed from heat: 85%
alcohol flamed: 75%
no heat, stored overnight 70%
baked/alcohol not stirred in, 25 minutes: 45%
baked/simmered/stirred 15 minutes: 40%
baked/simmered/stirred 60 minutes: 25%
baked/simmered/stirred 90 minutes: 20%
baked/simmered/stirred 2 hours: 10%

How long until it's gone entirely? Over three hours.

Some might ask, are sherry and port (which, after all, is fortified with distilled alcohol) included in this topic? No. They're deserving of a topic all by themselves and most of us don't need the nudge to use either.

So, that recipe for Pork Chops in Bourbon Mustard Sauce you pulled out of that magazine last time you were at the dentists (when you feigned a cough so no one would hear you tear it)? Here's the excuse you needed to get around to it.

As always, if you have any favorite recipes that feature spirits, we'd love to hear about them. Otherwise, cook at least one recipe this month that involves this topic and report your successes (or failures--we learn from each other's mistakes and disappointments) in new posts.

Cooks, to your kitchens!
Last edited by Jenise on Thu Jan 04, 2007 2:31 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: December IOTM: Cooking with Spirit(s)

Postby Hoke » Mon Nov 27, 2006 7:03 pm

So many, so many, so many....

Tequila Lime Shrimp (or scallops)

Irish Whiskey Cake (or any whiskey/whisky, for that matter)

Whiskey glazes for meats.

Brining---but using good whiskies instead of, say, maple syrup.

But if you're putting sherry/port/madeira in a different category, then you really have to put liqueurs/cordials in a separate category too, for most of them are simply alcohol-based flavors, from Cointreau and Gran Marnier (orange and cognac) to Chambord (black raspberries and honey). Heck, there are, literally, thousands of recipes from the various cordials out there.

The new craze for flavored vodkas is another category, for they don't require the mandatory sugar that a cordial does (by law); instead they rely on essences of flavor (lime, lemon, blood orange, etc.).

Good topic, guys. Should get some responses from this one!
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Re: December IOTM: Cooking with Spirit(s)

Postby Robert J. » Mon Nov 27, 2006 7:40 pm

Well shiver-me-timbers! It just so happens that my Holiday Fruitcakes are ripening in the fridge this very instant (fruit macerated in cognac and the finished cakes soaked with armagnac...this takes WEEKS to make). I also just made some borracho beans (tequila) the other day. Then there's my 'Texas' chili which uses Shiner Bock.

For the sake of the forum I will post these recipes (except the chili...super big secret/sacred recipe). I will also do something new and get back with you.

Oh man, this is going to be fun, fun, fun. Jenise and Cynthia, you gals rule! :lol:
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Re: December IOTM: Cooking with Spirit(s)

Postby Robin Garr » Mon Nov 27, 2006 8:57 pm

Jenise wrote:You know, booze. Hooch. The hard stuff.


I love this topic! Here's a recipe that I invented a couple of years ago after a visit to Woodford Reserve distillery in central Kentucky, a Brown-Forman property that makes a pretty darn good drop of Bourbon. (Hi, Hoke! ;) )

Bourbon pecan chicken
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Re: December IOTM: Cooking with Spirit(s)

Postby Paul Winalski » Tue Nov 28, 2006 12:59 pm

The "it takes three hours" claim is absurd. The amount of time it will take to evaporate all of the ethanol depends on the amount of ethanol that was poured in, how violently the liquid is boiling, and the exposed surface area. It's no different from the situation when you add water to a dish and then reduce it. There's no single set time period.

One way to tell if there's alcohol left is to take the temperature of the boiling liquid. Until the ethanol is driven off, the gas that's boiling off will be an ethanol/water azeotrope consisting of 96% ethanol. The azeotrope has a boiling point of 78 degrees celsius. The liquid temperature will go up to the boiling point of water (100 degrees C) once the ethanol's driven off.

-Paul W.
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Re: December IOTM: Cooking with Spirit(s)

Postby Howie Hart » Tue Nov 28, 2006 1:10 pm

Paul Winalski wrote:...One way to tell if there's alcohol left is to take the temperature of the boiling liquid. Until the ethanol is driven off, the gas that's boiling off will be an ethanol/water azeotrope consisting of 96% ethanol. The azeotrope has a boiling point of 78 degrees celsius. The liquid temperature will go up to the boiling point of water (100 degrees C) once the ethanol's driven off.

-Paul W.

Doesn't the presence of salt, sugar and other dissolved substances effect the final boiling point? After all, we are talking about sauces, not water/ethanol solution.
BTW - we're having a similar discussion regarding measuring RS using a hydrometer in the following thread in the Wine Lovers Forum:
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Re: December IOTM: Cooking with Spirit(s)

Postby Jenise » Tue Nov 28, 2006 6:48 pm

Hoke, you're right. Didn't mean to include all cordials--those, too, are a category unto themselves.

Richard J--glad you like the topic! But Shiner Bock? That's a beer, right? (I love that beer.) But beer's not included, just hard likker. And you actually make fruitcake! I'm impressed.

Paul--don't shoot! That three hour claim pertained to the simmering method or at least a "if you absolutely have to be sure it's all gone" kind of extreme. I'm no scientist and neither are most cooks, I just found that USDA table and reported it.
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Re: December IOTM: Cooking with Spirit(s)

Postby Robert J. » Tue Nov 28, 2006 8:56 pm

Jenise wrote:

Richard J--glad you like the topic! But Shiner Bock? That's a beer, right? (I love that beer.) But beer's not included, just hard likker. And you actually make fruitcake! I'm impressed.



I just don't understand how people who have never actually met me OR my brother manage to get us confused (this really does happen frequently). For the last time, HE'S Richard and I'M Robert. :wink:

You're right. Beer's not the hard stuff so I guess my chili is out. But that's o.k. because, like I said, the recipe is super duper top secret.

I'm glad to hear you like fruitcake. Most people don't so I don't let on that I make it. I really do have to plan weeks in advance. This batch was started before Thanksgiving. I believe about two weeks before. The fruit has to sit in the booze for a week! I'll post the recipe soon, when I have more time to write.
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Re: December IOTM: Cooking with Spirit(s)

Postby Jenise » Tue Nov 28, 2006 10:05 pm

Robert, sorry about the name mix up. I'm married to a Robert and he's the greatest guy in the world, it's not as if I don't have an affinity for the name.

Yeah, I love fruitcake. Always have. It's the best thing in the world to serve with Madeira, too. Yet I've never made one. Maybe I should rectify that this month. You're talking weeks though to maturity--I thought it took months. Not so?
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Re: December IOTM: Cooking with Spirit(s)

Postby Robert J. » Tue Nov 28, 2006 11:10 pm

Well, when you factor in the total time until Christmas then it will have been about two months. I actually started about a week late this year. It needs to happen the first week of November. This is a recipe from Saveur (1996) adapted from Maida Heater. It's yummy. I love to bake, especially during the holidays.

Oh, oh, oh, gotta get some madieria.

No worries on the name mix-up. It's just kind of funny how it happens. It even happens to Richard sometimes. Strange.
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Re: December IOTM: Cooking with Spirit(s)

Postby Stuart Yaniger » Wed Nov 29, 2006 7:45 am

adapted from Maida Heater.


I'm speechless. Much to Robin's relief, I'm sure.
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Re: December IOTM: Cooking with Spirit(s)

Postby ChefCarey » Wed Nov 29, 2006 8:23 am

My favorite spirit to cook with is the ghost of Christmas past.
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Re: December IOTM: Cooking with Spirit(s)

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Wed Nov 29, 2006 11:25 am

After hotel school and the Connaught Hotel in London, I worked in France and sea-bass flamed with pernod was a great dish.
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Re: December IOTM: Cooking with Spirit(s)

Postby Hoke » Wed Nov 29, 2006 2:52 pm

And of course, there's the always appreciated Moules in a broth laced with Pernod or some variation thereof.

And I believe I posted (probably on one of the previous iterations of this forum/board) a recipe we used successfully which was based on a Pork Roast flavored with a glaze of Campari (careful, though: a little goes a long way; Campari bitterness can be too much for people who are bitter-sensitive, as many Murrikans are).

Not exactly cooking, but the serving of Madeira in the Madeira/Spanish tradition, with said beverage served with membrillo (quince fruit paste) and almendrado (dry, dense fig and almond cake) is something everyone needs to try at least once. But careful: it is habit inducing.
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Re: December IOTM: Cooking with Spirit(s)

Postby ChefCarey » Wed Nov 29, 2006 5:21 pm

I also enjoy clanking around a few pots and pans with Harvey, although I'm not sure if a pooka qualifies as a spirit or not.
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Re: December IOTM: Cooking with Spirit(s)

Postby Robert J. » Wed Nov 29, 2006 8:16 pm

Bob Parsons Alberta. wrote:After hotel school and the Connaught Hotel in London, I worked in France and sea-bass flamed with pernod was a great dish.


I put a bit of Pernod in my bouillabaise.
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Re: December IOTM: Cooking with Spirit(s)

Postby ChefCarey » Wed Nov 29, 2006 8:56 pm

Hoke wrote:And of course, there's the always appreciated Moules in a broth laced with Pernod or some variation thereof.

.


This was a very popular special - with heavy cream - I used to run when I was at Scott's in SF.
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Re: December IOTM: Cooking with Spirit(s)

Postby Robert J. » Wed Nov 29, 2006 10:30 pm

Bob Parsons Alberta. wrote:After hotel school and the Connaught Hotel in London, I worked in France and sea-bass flamed with pernod was a great dish.


I work as a fish monger and have access to good sea bass. What was the cooking technique (grill, sautee, bake)? I'd love to try it.
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Re: December IOTM: Cooking with Spirit(s)

Postby Larry Greenly » Sat Dec 02, 2006 11:50 am

[So, that recipe for Pork Chops in Bourbon Mustard Sauce you pulled out of that magazine last time you were at the dentists (when you feigned a cough so no one would hear you tear it)? Here's the excuse you needed to get around to it. ]

That's why you always carry a small Swiss army knife.

I frequently use sherry to deglaze a pan. One of Albuquerque's great restaurants, Le Cafe Miche, uses pernod in their escargots [that's "snails" for Robin], making them the best in the city. I own a tequila cookbook, where I found you can use tequila in just anything. And, of course, there's always Coq au Vin.
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Re: December IOTM: Cooking with Spirit(s)

Postby Jenise » Sat Dec 02, 2006 1:04 pm

Larry Greenly wrote:That's why you always carry a small Swiss army knife.


No, that's why I cough a lot at dentist's offices. The Army Knife is for puncturing milk cartons, slashing tires, that kind of thing.

And, of course, there's always Coq au Vin.


Because of the brandy component? I don't think that's enough to qualify it Larry, Coq au Vin's about the vin. Now leave out the wine and add half a bottle of bourbon, and we have something to talk about.
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Re: December IOTM: Cooking with Spirit(s)

Postby Larry Greenly » Sun Dec 03, 2006 1:52 am

I use my Swiss army knife for cleaning my fingernails, opening beer bottles and cutting out coupons (or slicing off entire pages). And I always have a toothpick handy.

On the other hand, I have repaired a number of things with it, including my car.
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Re: December IOTM: Cooking with Spirit(s)

Postby TimMc » Tue Dec 05, 2006 1:48 am

Hoke,

I would be very interested in any whiskey glazes for meats, specifically for a New York/Porterhouse steak, if you are willing to share them.

Thanks in advance.


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Re: December IOTM: Cooking with Spirit(s)

Postby Hoke » Tue Dec 05, 2006 5:25 pm

Here's a basic whiskey glaze sauce for grilling at About.com:


http://homeparents.about.com/od/barbecueandgrilling/r/whiskey_bbq.htm

And since you specifically mentioned NY/Porterhouse, while this recipe is not exactly a glaze, it's pretty damned good. It's Pan Fried Porterhouse with a Jack Daniel's Pan Sauce.

http://www.jackdaniels.com/tennesseetable/steaks.htm
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Re: December IOTM: Cooking with Spirit(s)

Postby Howie Hart » Tue Dec 05, 2006 5:44 pm

Larry Greenly wrote:I use my Swiss army knife for...
How many years did you have to spend in the Swiss Army to earn a knife? :shock:
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