Mar 16, 2022
It is known to many how in the kitchen, wine and beer are considered the ABC in the preparation of various culinary creations; however, we want to focus on spirits and try to make them the protagonists of our gastronomic experiments.
With the use of an alcoholic ingredient, the flavor of any other element present in the recipe will be intensified and amplified, provided of course that the correct combination is chosen. Alcohol plays several roles in the making of the dish; it is in fact able to counteract and rebalance overly intense flavors, help leavening and soften tough meats. Let's see together which spirits can be used in the kitchen and how to choose them based on each type of need.
Let's start with whiskey, a spirit that is not easy to use in the kitchen given its particularly spicy and intense aroma. Given its characteristics it is easy to imagine that its use is very suitable in the preparation of typical recipes of the oriental tradition such as, for example, meat with bamboo mushrooms or soy spaghetti with shellfish.
But this is certainly not all, as the addition of a few drops of whiskey is also a winning choice in the preparation of marinating recipes such as salmon with herbs in Scotch whiskey sauce; also in cumin-based dishes and with cheeses with an intense and particular flavor such as roquefort or gorgonzola. The latter, exquisitely blended with whiskey, are a crazy combination and absolutely to try, which give rise to a risotto characterized by an amazing creaminess and taste. Finally, we see how many chefs use scotch to make desserts and in particular chocolate-based desserts, such as the delicious mousse cake with whiskey cream, but also ginger, cinnamon and fruit.
Let's move on to brandy, a liqueur obtained from the distillation of wine; a very strong spirit with an alcohol content between 40 and 60 degrees. Originally from southern Europe, in particular from Italy and Spain, this distillate is not obtained exclusively from grape wine but also from the juice of many other fruits such as apricots, plums, oranges, berries and peaches. In the kitchen, brandy is widely used especially by French cuisine in the preparation of desserts, consommè and flambeè sauces.
Its structure allows quite extravagant combinations that can range from meat-based recipes, to types of fresh sweet and pasty cheeses, or to enrich the flavor of pasta sauces, up to the world of desserts; it is in the latter field that brandy is in fact the ideal ingredient for many recipes of homemade cakes such as the delicious chocolate cake with a soft heart. But there is no doubt that the combination in which brandy goes best is the one with dry pastries that involve the use of ingredients such as almonds or spices, where the aromaticity of sweet flavors perfectly accompanies the organoleptic characteristics of wood and brandy vanilla.
Let's now see the approach of grappa in the kitchen; it is one of the flagships of Italian production and also the only distillate obtained from the solid part of the wine pressing, the marc. Due to its evident persistent aromatic characteristics, grappa goes well with few ingredients, but surely one of the favorites is rice.
During the preparation of the risotto, in fact, the nuance with a glass of grappa gives a pleasant alcoholic aroma to the dish, giving it the possibility of combining it with a fish or cheese-based condiment. Also interesting is the combination with savory main courses that also include the use of fruit, such as suckling pig with grappa with apples or cinta senese with plums.
The rum, extracted from the sugar cane plantations from which the molasses is obtained, which is left to ferment and crystallize before being subsequently treated, is a distillate with an exotic flavor originating from the equatorial belt of Asia.
The use of a raw material such as cane sugar gives this spirit a flavor so sweet and honeyed that it even takes on bitter notes at the end of the tasting. For this reason, for its use dishes are preferred in combination with cocoa desserts and preparations in which the same cane sugar is present, perhaps caramelized, as for example in the Catalan cream. The persistent notes of tobacco, sweet spices and chestnut honey blend very well with the typical sweets of South Tyrolean cuisine such as rum kaiserchmarrn or choco-rum plumcake.
We continue with cognac, a distillate of French origin aged in toasted barrels. The elegant and delicate hints of vanilla, wood and honey depend on the degree of toasting of the barrels; the greater the roasting, the more pronounced the sweetness will be on the palate where intense aromas of leather and tobacco will arrive.
Cognac finds excellent combinations in pastry, with preparations based on bitter cocoa and recipes with cinnamon, honey and cloves. Sensational dishes are also obtained by blending with cognac dips for pasta, escalopes, game and prawns.
Finally we will talk about vodka, a distillate typical of Eastern European and Asian countries where low temperatures require high alcoholic grades to try to counteract the cold. There are countless recipes, from first courses to desserts, which go perfectly with this alcoholic.
Among the first to consider are the timeless penne with vodka, risotto with salmon, gnocchi with shrimp or spaghetti crescenza and rocket, where a generous splash of vodka make the difference. Among the main courses, chicken, fillet and prawns with vodka stand out; while for desserts the most popular options that involve their use are biscuits, ricotta peaches and vodka and cosmopolitan cheesecake.
If you are now curious to try to make one of the aforementioned dishes, we leave you in search of the recipes with relative doses and procedure for making them, on the web. However, we can offer you a wide selection of the best spirits on the market to choose from.
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