Some Sacramento cooks prepare summer foods by basting them in wine, beer, brandy, liqueur, and liquor. But which foods go with beer and which with wine, brandy, or liqueur? And what foods get marinated in liquors such as scotch or gin? Well, raisins are soaked in gin, for one, according to some Sacramento amateur (hobby) cooks such as J. V. H., age 73. “You can fry fish dipped in beer batter,” he explains. “But raisins get soaked in gin before you scatter them over your lamb chops.”
How would you like to cook one-pot meals using liqueur, beer, wines, and liquors if you found the various alcoholic drinks affordable, adaptable, practical and dependable in meal preparation? You just stew or roast the meat, fish, vegetables, or fruits in the brew in one pot, crockpot, wok, covered casserole baking dish, stewpot, or pan and spoon out into bowls. Creative cookery needs a vehicle, and you will find none and beer for stews. Wine roasts. Gin and rum accent foods. Gravy made from beer is nutritious.
Some but not all of the alcohol content burns up in cooking process. Scientists used to think all the alcohol burned up in cooking, but recently, studies revealed that much of the alcohol still remains in food after cooking.
Captured is the flavor and aroma in the pot to savor. Shrimp in beer with the shell left remaining broth is used in all stocks and stews. Not a drop of expensive liqueur goes to waste in preparing desserts, and for cooking food with wines, champagnes, ales, liqueurs, and beers, the aroma and taste improves the flavor, which remains an individual taste. Could we call it the broth whose time has come?
Cooking with Beer
The more familiar types of beer for cooking hearty meals are lager, clear bodied, about 3% to 5% alcohol. Bock, used with meat is heavier. You can cook with bock, ale, or stout. Beer imparts a slightly sweet flavor when added to barbecues and stews, soybean dishes and breads, adds depth or dimension.
Ales are heavier than lager beers and have a slightly higher alcoholic content. They are less sweet and darker. Porter is sweeter ale, used for cooking vegetable dishes and sweet and sour fish. Don’t add ales to delicate soups, like crème (or cream) of beer-and-lemon chicken soup, or celery stocks. ‘Cream’ refers to a creamed soup containing dairy, and ‘crème’ refers to a non-dairy soup.
Stout is stewed in cheese and poultry dishes. Beer is used as a stock for gravy. It is nutritious and zesty. Use your darker beers for beef and light beer for shellfish and dairy.
Beer is brewed and fermented from malt grains. It has a very low alcoholic content and is the most highly nutritious of the liquors. Beer is the least expensive liquor to be used for cooking. Lager, clear and light-bodied with about 3.5 percent alcohol, is great for soups in which bones, meat, and vegetables are simmered.
Bock is heavier and darker, with a sweet flavor is good to add to bread dough for added nutrition and aroma Substitute the beer for water or milk. Ales are heavier than lager beers. They have slightly higher alcohol content and are darker and bitterer.
Use bock in heavy meat and fish stews where lots of spices and olive oil are added with other flavors coming from the vegetables, bones, hearty meats, and other stockpot additions. Porter is sweeter ale. It’s best in which to boil shrimp, crab, other shellfish, scallops, fish, and for making old fashioned chowders.
Stout is very dark, has a stronger hop taste and higher alcohol content. Lace, baste, and simmer stout with cold roasts, meats and poultry or vegetable protein meat substitutes basking in a cold juice made from marinating and stewing in Stout. Proof is a measurement of alcoholic strength.
Each degree of proof equals one half of one percent of alcohol -a 100 proof whiskey contains 50% alcohol. The 86 proof whiskeys you buy contain 43% alcohol. Most straight whiskeys are 100 proofs. Blended whiskeys are 86 proofs.
Canadian whiskey may be 90 proof. London gin is a higher proof. Brandy may be at least 80 proof. Liqueurs which you’ll use in concocting desserts are a lower proof, but high in “sugar calories.”
The alcohol may evaporate in cooking, but it won’t when you add it to uncooked or chilled foods. The sugar will remain, cooked or uncooked. Now let’s look at cooking with the hard liquors.
The Hard Liquors in Cooking: Liquor Has Its Own Special Language
Whiskey is the leading alcoholic beverage in this country. For cooking, it’s practically unknown as an ingredient. The most usual varieties are bourbon, Scotch, rye, blended, Canadian, and Irish whiskeys.
A straight whiskey is distilled then aged without blending. A blended straight whiskey contains a blend of several straight whiskeys, as “blended bourbon.” Whiskey can be incorporated in pork dishes such as bacon with whiskey-parsley sauce, baked beef and vegetables with a whiskey sauce.
Bourbon is made from corn predominating with other grains. So if you’re among those allergic to corn products, don’t use bourbon.
Sour mash bourbon is given a longer time to ferment, resulting in a smoother and lighter, more expensive bourbon whiskey. It’s used in such dishes as sour mash bourbon and whiskey custard over meatloaf and other originals.
Scotch Whisky (spelled without. the ‘e’) is made predominantly from barley. It’s good to know the grain since some people have allergies to corn, wheat, or other grains. Choose liquor distilled from a grain you can tolerate. Scotch whisky has a distinctive “smoky” flavor.
It comes from the peat fires to which the green barley malt has been exposed. Add that smoky flavor to the smoked meat dishes, or bacon bits, and you have a hickory-flavored meal.
Canadian Whiskey is a blended whiskey made from rye, corn, and barley and blended with neutral spirits. It is light in flavor, color, has more rye and barley than the corn-grain blended whiskeys. Try baking your own rye bread with added Canadian whiskey. Irish whiskey is made from barley. It’s not smoky. The heavy flavor is good in stews and gravies for braised meats or heavy roasts.
Gin, like whiskey, is distilled from a mash of grain. It’s flavored with juniper berries and other flavorings. Gin is clear, colorless. Try frankfurters in gin or in gin and tequila, distilled from the cactus plant.
Yellow gin is blander, more expensive. Holland gin has a strong taste and is used in blending. Forget it for cooking. Sloe gin is made from sloe plums. How about sloe plum gin over blazing hot plums and cheese tidbits?
Vodka is the national drink of Russia and Poland. It’s distilled from wheat. Vodka is similar to gin, less aromatic. Bake it in your bread or combine with meatloaf for a new slant on uncooked Tatar steak. Chopped raw, refrigerated meat is marinated long enough in anti-bacterial marinades to kill any parasites. Meat is mixed also with spices, garlic, and onions and blended into a raw meatloaf drenched with Vodka.
Be careful here. Raw meat can contain live pinworms. If you cook the loaf, some of the alcohol may evaporate depending upon how the pan is covered. The Vodka may or may not kick you back. Ovens, cooking, and temperatures vary.
Never eat raw pork, and don’t eat any type of raw meat, especially ground raw meat as it contains very harmful bacteria that will make you sick. People who eat raw fish know what to marinate the fish and/or meat in for how long to kill the worms, bacteria, and other parasites in the raw meat.
Rum is made from sugar cane or molasses. It comes from the Caribbean area. White label, light rum is clean and delicate in flavor. Try over coffee-mocha-chocolate ice cream and cake in a cafe Carob rum sauce.
Gold label rum comes from Cuba. It’s lighter in body, but darker in color and with more flavor and aroma than the white label rums.
The flavor is full. So use in all egg desserts. Drizzle over frozen desserts, eggnog, pies, cakes, custards, and fruit compotes. Heavy rum comes from Jamaica. It’s darker and heavier than the other rums.
Tequila comes from the cactus. In Mexico it’s combined with sausages, artichokes, sliced olives, sour cream, sliced tomatoes, lettuce, grated cheese and mashed beans and ground beef and eaten in a flat bread burrito or taco (a Mexican wrap-around thin-flat E-read, like a flexible raw pizza circle, lightly browned, but bendable, and wrappable). Brandy is a distilled wine, high in alcoholic content.
Brandy is usually made from grapes and other fruit. The most common are cognac, apple brandy, cherry, plum, and apricot. They’re very sweet. Use brandy in desserts or over cold roast ham or veal as a basting sauce. Apple brandy over ham is delicious. Apricot brandy over veal is a Greek specialty.
Plum brandies over barbecued ribs with Asian-style vegetables are out of this world. If you want the ‘feel’ of aromatic liquor and don’t want to spend the money for the hard liquor, wine is the next least expensive liquor to beer to pour into your cooking.
For more info: browse my books, How Nutrigenomics Fights Childhood Type 2 Diabetes & Weight Issues (2009) or Predictive Medicine for Rookies (2005). Or see my books, How to Safely Tailor Your Foods, Medicines, & Cosmetics to Your Genes (2003) or How to Interpret Family History & Ancestry DNA Test Results for Beginners (2004) or How to Open DNA-driven Genealogy Reporting & Interpreting Businesses. (2007). Check out my free audio lecture on Internet Archive, How nutrigenomics fights childhood type 2 diabetes.