Wine and cognac can change the taste and structure of foods and the dishes they are used in. In this article, we explore the different uses of wine and cognac, and as a bonus, there are two recipes below that clearly demonstrate the power of their influence.
A glass of wine can make dinner elegant and languid but the real power of alcohol is revealed not at the table, but during the preparation of dishes. Alcohol can not only change the taste of food, just like salt or spices but also changes its depth and adds additional layers to its taste.
Let’s see what properties wine and cognac have in cooking.
Why Do Chefs Add Wine To Dishes?
- First of all, wine enhances the taste and aroma of dishes due to the release of esters of fruit acids and other aromatic substances. Acids in wine (tartaric, succinic, malic) act on food in much the same way as acids in lemon juice or vinegar.
- Wine is good for marinades, as it softens the meat and shortens the cooking time.
- Acids emphasize the natural taste of delicate foods, so white fish is often prepared with white wine and served with a lemon wedge. Therefore, they like to add white wine to sauces for young tender vegetables – asparagus, peas, cauliflower, etc. Highly acidic wines, like any other sour product, do not allow legumes to boil and sometimes turn green vegetables into gray-brown ones.
- In addition, when used as marinade, wine is scientifically proven to kill disease-causing bacteria that may be found in meat.
The Principles of Combining Wine and Food
There are centuries-old traditions of combining food and drinks. Thus, red wines are usually served with meat, and the fatter the meat, the stronger and more tart wine should be. White wines are more suitable for fish and seafood. White wines are also suitable for dishes from white poultry meat. When preparing dishes, you should be guided by the same rules: add red wines to red meat dishes, white wines to fish dishes, sweet varieties of wines are suitable for desserts.
The same drink is good as an accompaniment to dishes cooked with the addition of wine. It is customary to add strong wines in small quantities to soups. They are also used for cooking beefy recipes and sauces. Dry white wines are best for creamy and cheese sauces; they are combined with fish, seafood, poultry, less often with veal and pork. Vegetables cooked with white wine acquire an interesting taste. White and rosé wines work well with egg dishes.
Aromatic sweet wines go well with fruit and creamy desserts. It is not customary to add wine to chocolate desserts: the bright aroma of cocoa clogs the light smell of wine.
Recipe: Pork with Dried Cherries and Red Wine
You will need:
- Dill seeds – 2 tsp
- Salt – 2 tsp
- Black peppercorns – ½ teaspoon
- Pork tenderloin – 1 kg
- Shallot – 7 pieces
- Olive oil – 2 tablespoons
- Dry red wine – 2.5 cups
- Dried cherries – 1 glass
- Sugar – ½ cup
- Fresh rosemary – 2 pcs.
1. Combine ground dill seeds, salt, crushed black pepper, and rub the meat with this mixture (two pieces of pork tenderloin, 500 g each).
2. Cut the shallots in half lengthwise. Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet and add the meat and onions. Cook over medium-high heat for about 30-35 minutes, until the meat’s temperature (inside the piece, in the thickest part) rises to 65-70 degrees. Use a kitchen thermometer to determine if the meat is cooked.
3. Transfer the finished meat to a cutting board, cover with foil and leave to cool at room temperature.
4. While the pork is cooling, pour the wine into the pan with the remaining onions in it and bring to a boil, stirring actively. After boiling, wait one minute and then pour everything into a 2L heavy-bottomed saucepan.
5. Add dried cherries, sugar, two sprigs of rosemary to a saucepan, bring to a boil again and continue to cook for 15–20 minutes. When the liquid has reduced to two cups, remove the saucepan from the heat, remove the rosemary and use a food processor to grind the mixture coarsely enough.
6. Cut chilled meat into chunks and serve with hot cherry-wine sauce.
Why Do Chefs Use Cognac In Cooking?
- As with wine, cognac is used for flavor. Its aroma emphasizes the smells of ingredients, adds depth, and is able to exalt a dish from “banal” to “special”. Also, everyone knows chocolates with cognac fillings since cognac and chocolate are a classic, harmonious combination.
- Cognac is a kind of preservative. Christmas cookies, cakes, muffins are looser, more aromatic, and crispy. Cognac is great friends with vanilla, coffee, chocolate, spices. Chebureks with cognac is crispy and bubbly. Cognac promotes fermentation and accelerates the fermentation of the dough. It also has a positive effect on the porosity of baked goods.
- Cognac has denaturing properties; that is, it softens the protein of the meat. Therefore, it is also often used for sauces and marinades. Most often, cognac is used to prepare tough meat: hare, feathered bird.
- Cognac allows ice cream to keep its delicate creamy consistency and does not turn into a puddle at room temperatures.
- For flaming products. This procedure is carried out in the form of a spectacular culinary trick, when the dish is poured with brandy and set on fire before serving. When it burns out rapidly, alcohol imparts a light and pleasant aroma to food. It is especially good to process seafood and desserts like pancakes in this way. Much, of course, depends on what to pour with cognac: powdered sugar, for example, turns into a toasty, dense crust.
By the way, absolutely everything can be set on fire. So, in German restaurants, meat and fish dishes are most often flamed, in Asian – fruits.
Recipe: Flambe Veal
You will need:
- Veal – 1.5KG
- Cognac – 100 g
- Beef broth – 300 ml
- Vegetable oil – 40 ml
- Butter 1 tbsp. l.
- Pepper – 1 tsp
- Rosemary, thyme – 2 branches
- Salt pepper – taste
- Chop thyme and rosemary with a knife, add salt and pepper.
- Wash the veal, wipe with napkins. Sprinkle with the prepared mixture, rubbing it thoroughly into the surface.
- Mix the two types of oil, heat in a frying pan until almost smoky. Lower the veal and sauté for two minutes on each side over high heat. A light crust should appear.
- Drain the fat from the pan and leave the meat in it. Pour brandy over the veal, light it. As soon as the alcohol goes out, return the fat to the meat, pour over it.
- Pour the stock into the pan. Sometimes the meat is poured over a cup of white wine. Place the piece in the oven and cook at 180 degrees for an hour. Remove the veal from the oven, place it on the stove, evaporate the rest of the broth.
- Cut the meat into pieces and serve. Sometimes the meat is also set on fire on the table. This technique no longer affects the taste much, and it is more intended for a spectacular presentation.
I hope this guide helped you understand the role of wine and cognac in cooking. If you haven’t tried using these in your recipes, maybe now is the time to explore. Use the recipes above for a scrumptious dinner with the family. Happy cooking!