A little Calvados on the roast pork loin, a few tablespoons
of dark rum in the chocolate sabayon. . . . There’s
little doubt that alcohol, with its unique nuances in
flavor, adds richness and depth to many foods. Alcohol
also dissolves and carries the flavors of other ingredients,
and its acids help tenderize meat and poultry.
Alcohol’s boiling point is lower than that of water,
and many cooks assume that little or none of its potency
remains after cooking. Research tells a different story.
food can retain from 5 to 85 percent of the original
alcohol. The amount of alcohol left depends on how the
dish is prepared, when the alcohol is added, and how
thoroughly it’s incorporated with other ingredients.
general, the longer the cooking time, the less the amount
of alcohol that remains. Fast methods of cooking, such
as flambéing, leave about 75 percent of the alcohol
in the food. In contrast, a dish that has been baked
or simmered for fifteen minutes contains about 40 percent
of the original alcohol. After two hours of cooking,
roughly 10 percent of the alcohol remains.
If you wish to avoid alcohol in cooking, there are substitutes,
but substitutes don’t contribute the same depth
of flavors as liqueurs and wines. Use 7/8 cup of meat
or vegetable broth (or apple, tomato, or white grape
juice) for each cup of wine in a savory dish. To mimic
wine’s acidity, add 2 tablespoons fresh lemon
juice or vinegar. In desserts, replace the wine with
fruit juice plus a dash of balsamic vinegar. If a recipe
calls for orange liqueur, try frozen orange juice concentrate
and the grated zest of fresh orange instead.
We hope this information has been helpful, and we invite
anyone to add suggestions to the Forum.
Best Wishes for the New Year,
Anne & Sue