So, earlier this week, my brother Brandon wrote a piece giving you a brief background on wine. We’re going to work together here (shocker!), and I’ll provide you a couple of great ways for cooking with wine.
There are some great ways to use this wonderful nectar to enhance your food. You can make a sauce, a braising liquid, or a marinade. And while there are cooking wines designed for this type of thing, the flavor is so much better when you use an actual wine.
Which Wine to Choose?
This is very simple. Pairing food with wine is mainly based on the color of your food. A red meat or sauce is perfect for a red wine, and the same goes for a white meat or sauce. So the real question is: What do you want to eat? Where it gets strange is when you take a white meat (chicken) and a dark sauce (like balsamic). In cases like that, the sauce dictates the type of wine you cook with. Below you will find one recipe for red wine and one for white.
The most important thing to do is know the difference in types and sugar levels of the wine. A sweeter wine will require more cooking time to reduce the amount of sugar in it. Meanwhile, a dryer wine runs the risk of being “overcooked” and turning bitter. Also, do not go out and buy a $100 bottle of wine to cook with. Drink that and use the $12 bottle of Mondavi on the stove top.
I’m going to make your first foray into cooking with wine fairly simple. The timing of these recipes is essential to follow for reasons stated above. Plus, I want you to have a meal where you can really taste the wine and thoroughly enjoy it.
Cooking With Wine – Red Wine Recipe
Red Wine Balsamic Salmon
This will be pretty easy to follow as the wine is in the sauce. Salmon, for the most part, can envelop the flavors you put in it or on it. Therefore, if you mess up the sauce, just mince some garlic and whisk it into some melted butter and save the salmon.
4 six-ounce fillets of salmon
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 cups of dry red wine (most common/affordable is a Cabernet Sauvignon)
1 small yellow onion (minced)
1 thyme sprig
2 tablespoons of heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil in medium saucepan, add the onion and cook over medium heat until soft (four minutes).
Add thyme, black pepper, red wine, and balsamic vinegar. Boil on high heat for 12 minutes.
Remove from heat, whisk in cream, then the butter (one tablespoon at a time). Season with salt and pepper, strain and keep warm.
Heat remaining olive oil in large skillet. Season fillets with salt and pepper, cook on medium-high heat, skin side up, until brown (four minutes).
Turn and cook for three more minutes. Move salmon to plates, spoon sauce on top and serve immediately.
If you want to add more flavor to your meal, pour a nice glass of Pinot Noir or Merlot.
Cooking With Wine – White Wine Recipe
Garlic & White Wine Pasta
This may seem like a cop-out to some, but pasta sauce is the easiest way to introduce wine into your meal. By using it in a sauce, you almost blend it a little easier and add a little more wine and get an enjoyable experience at the dinner table. Besides, pasta may be the best food ever to pair with wine because it is lighter and you can drink more!
Note: You will need a blender for this one to help with the creaminess of the sauce.
10 ounces of pasta
3 tablespoons of olive oil
4 tablespoons of cornstarch
4 tablespoons of yeast
1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese
4 cloves of garlic (chopped)
1 3/4 cup of milk
1/2 cup of dry white wine (Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay)
Salt and Pepper for seasoning.
Boil water in a large pot, add salt for seasoning and begin cooking your pasta.
Heat large, rimmed skillet over medium heat, add oil and garlic. Saute for three minutes, until garlic is slightly brown, and add wine. If it flames, don’t freak out as it will only happen briefly. Plus, you’ll feel like a true chef. Stir and saute for four minutes.
Add cornstarch and whisk, then add milk and whisk again. It will be clumpy, but that’s where the blender comes in.
Place into a blender with yeast, salt and pepper, and cheese. Blend on high until nice and creamy. Taste test and add more cheese, yeast, salt or pepper as you wish.
Transfer sauce back to the skillet and warm over medium-low hit until bubbly. Continue to whisk until it thickens.
Lower the temperature to low and let simmer. If it gets too thin, increase heat. If it’s too thick, add more milk and whisk.
Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the sauce. Give it a quick toss and serve.
A great white wine to pair with this meal would be a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio.