Cooking with Alcohol





There is a dramatic restaurant image of a black clad head waiter standing at a rolling table with a burner on top. He is swirling a concoction in a large sauté pan set on top of the burner. At the critical moment, he touches a lit match to the concoction and it erupts into dancing blue flames that carry a heady aroma of Cognac and other liqueurs into the air. It is an enticing moment that brings fear to those concerned with alcoholism. Much food has wine or other alcohol based products in it. Conventional wisdom tells us that the alcohol is boiled or flamed off in the cooking process. This is not entirely true; a vestigial amount of alcohol remains.

However, it is not enough to give anyone a buzz. Many people who have problems with alcohol eschew such foods even though they happily eat baked goods that contain vanilla or almond extract both of which have a higher alcohol content than that remaining in foods cooked with wine or liquor. This does not of course include treats like baba au rhum which are soaked in uncooked alcohol. It does permit the observation that the avoidance of dishes with cooked alcohol is probably primarily psychological based on the evocative smell and flavor of these foods which may be too seductive for people with alcohol problems.   

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