Fact or Fiction: Alcohol “Cooks Out”
Wine, beer, and spirits aren’t just for cocktail hour; alcoholic beverages can also be essential ingredients in marinades, sauces, dips, and desserts. Alcohol intensifies the other flavors and aromas in a dish, and the acidity of some beverages such as wine and beer also acts as a tenderizer. But contrary to conventional wisdom, cooking does not necessarily eliminate all of the alcohol.
A classic flambe is one of the most dramatic ways to cook with spirits. Surprisingly, it’s also one of the least effective in terms of removing the alcohol, leaving up to three-quarters of the alcohol in the dish. Cakes made with rum or other spirits will retain around 25 percent of the alcohol after 1 hour of baking. The most effective way to reduce the alcohol is to simmer it in a sauce — but it still takes up to 3 hours for all of the alcohol to cook off.
If it’s important that your dish be totally alcohol-free, your best bet is to substitute a non-alcoholic wine or beer, which will give you much the same flavor but without the buzz. (Don’t try that with a flambe, though — you’ll need to go with the real thing!) But alcohol can be part of a number of healthy recipes, as the ones here demonstrate:
Poaching apples in a mix of sweet white wine and cherries makes for a simple, elegant and healthy dessert.
Heart-healthy salmon gets a flavor boost from a honey-bourbon marinade. You won’t miss the extra carbs or calories!
This classic silky pasta sauce is perfect for a light summer dinner. Just a bit of cured Italian meat, such as capicola, is all you need for it to pop.
Few things in the kitchen are as fun to make as flambe (or as scary, depending on your attitude about flames). This version is so full of flavor that you can substitute low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt for ice cream — no one will be disappointed.
Yes, you can eat healthy and happy! Explore all our healthy cooking recipes!