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2000s Archive

Kitchen Notebook: Why Cook with Alcohol?

Originally Published November 2008

This month, we use wines and spirits in everything from calf’s liver to a frangipane tart . Each type of alcohol contributes its own complex balance of acidity, sweetness, and savoriness to a dish, and it lends aroma as well. Sometimes alcohol molecules combine with other volatile molecules in food, giving even more resonance to the flavor. If you’re poaching fruit in wine (adding cups of sugar in the process), don’t splurge on an expensive bottle, but if you’re using alcohol in a sauce, where its qualities are heightened, buy the best you can afford.

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