Although we do not tolerate alcohol, denying wine a gastronomic importance would be a mistake. There are many people, even abstainers, who cook with wine because its aromatic and gustatory profile is very pleasant in endless dishes.
We generally speak of whites and reds in this case, although also of fortified wines such as Jerez, or other fortified ones (let’s think of the Port itself). Gone are not left, if we talk about cooking with alcohol, certain distillates such as brandy, cognac or armagnac.
For working, we even work with cider (Let’s think of choricillos to hell) or with whiskey (a barbecue sauce without this ingredient will not be the same), so the alcohol is well present at the bottom of our casseroles.
Very associated with stews, usually meat, but can also be use many and very good wines with other types of products, Always following a maxim, as Carmen Capote explains: “the first advice they gave me in cooking school is that the better the wine, the better the sauce.”
A wine that you would drink
Let’s be teetotalers or like wine, any cook will tell you that you can’t cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink. Something that happens to any other ingredient in our casseroles. If you don’t like it on its own, you won’t like it
In any case, not everything goes, as he explains Jose Antonio Medina, chef at the Coto de Quevedo restaurant (Torre de Juan Abad, Ciudad Real). “It doesn’t have to be a very expensive wine, but it does have to be a wine that you would like to drink, and not all wines are valid for all dishes.”
Forget about great results with the first super battle wine you find, many of which begin to lose color when cooked, and also forget about using a wine that you have in the fridge since Columbus discovered America.
The kitchen lifts the sins of a bad wine And if it is choppy, vinegary or simply lacks color or flavor, the only thing you are going to do is multiply those flavors and deficiencies.
To each recipe, its wine
Play with him balance of flavors, aromas and colors It is essential when adding wine to our recipes, but we must not take risks in the mix. “Reds do well for game funds and red meat dishes,” says José Antonio.
“To the lamb can go well with fine and fragrant wines and for the pickles it depends on the type of pickle. For a game, such as partridge or quail, a dry white such as a chardonnay will do well. In the case of tuna or fish, a fruity one is better, “he advises.
“In our pickled tuna we use airén grape from Valdepeñas, and for hunting backgrounds, wines with a lot of color“He considers.” A tempranillo or a cencibel, which is typical of La Mancha, which has a lot of red fruit, they go well with these dishes, “he emphasizes.
Color matters, sure. “TO a white meat is not usually added red wine because it is too powerful, or when we want to make a blanqueta “, he illustrates.” Reds must have a high layer, color, like the Valdepeñas cencibel, but the wood also matters, “he clarifies.
“Must be young wines with a bit of wood, but not much. Old wines, apart from being more expensive, tend to have a lot of wood and we don’t want to enhance that flavor so much because in the end it always appears. We look for the fruit, not the wood “, he synthesizes.
“It also depends on the type of stew to choose the type of wine,” explains Julián Barbolla, head of the room at the Maldonado 14 restaurant in Madrid. “If we make partridge, we used a younger red wine. If we make oxtail or big game, like venison, a wine from a previous vintage “.
“In our case, tempranillo, because it has color, body and flavor,” he mentions, but only talking about reds, which does not mean that there is a universe of whites to use. “It depends on what we want to do, we bet on one wine or another. Fish and shellfish do well with white wines, but that are not fruity, let them be on the dry side, “he says.
“We make some beans with partridge stew, and there we go with white wine because we want to respect the color and aroma of the beans“, for which they use a” non-fruity verdejo, although a godello can also be worth. “
Regarding this profile of whites, it is necessary to talk about the sherry wines, where the panorama goes from the manzanillas to the olorosos, passing through fine, amontillados and palo cortez. Fran Senra, from Conservas Senra, tells us about the chamomile from Sánlucar, who also proposes pairings with his blunt Sanlucan stews.
“The entire tradition of sea-food stews has chamomile here, although we use chamomile on the branch, which comes directly from the boot and is not bottled,” he claims. “In the home kitchen it is also used with chicken, meat and even vegetables, because everything supports chamomile well“, believe.
“Cuttlefish with fried bread or cuttlefish with summer, or prawns with garlic and chamomile, are very typical here. In the latter, the prawn is not fried like in garlic prawns, but it is cooked with chamomile and oil“, summarizing that” the better the wine, the better the dish “, leaving a message for gourmets at Casa Balbino, where they make a spectacular amontillado sea bass.
From starter to dessert
Knowing what to use, now the important thing remains: how. There are wines that are used to aromatize at the end of cooking, wines that we use to deglaze a fund and wines that we use to reduce. In all these arts, some tricks are left by the way.
One of them is the reduction, where Julián Barbolla leaves a very useful clue. “U.S We add the reduced wine to the stew. Once the sauce is poached, we add the wine that we have left to cook in another pan. So we save time and have all the flavor concentrated beforehand, “he says.
And always, or at least in his case, “the wine before the broth. Give it 10 or 15 minutes with the sauce and then add the meat broth. Either for a sauce or just to add flavor, “he clarifies.” At that time, if we add brandy or other distillates, it will be when we flambé it to remove the alcohol, “he remarks.
As an extra trick, a vindication of sous vide cooking that now sounds very contemporary but has been in the kitchen for decades. “We ration our dishes sous vide, including the sauce already reduced [que trituran y pasan por el chino] and then we regenerate. This way we avoid that the sauce continues to evaporate but that it maintains all its flavor “, he specifies.
Along with this key, special for hocks, oxtails or cheeks, it leaves the mark for fish and meat. “We make some artichokes in green sauce and white wine in this case we reduce it to the moment when pouring it into the sautée, when they are about to leave, “he says.
“It is the same that we could do with some clams a la marinera or with any shell dish,” he catalogs. Different tessitura poses with the vinaigrettes, where we also learn another trick: “reduce a white wine with apple cider vinegar and add a little oil and a bit of salt and with that we have a perfect vinaigrette for salads, even those with fish or shellfish, “he warns.
On sherries, it is manifested in the predilection of the use in crude oil as “salad dressings or fish tart, where a dry fine is good because it has that saline point “.
Playing with reds, José Antonio Medina’s cuisine based on stews, game and recipes from La Mancha, also leaves a couple of options to be brave with wine. “With some oxtail cannelloni, where We cook them with a liter of red wine and 200 ml of Pedro Ximénez, so that they have both aromas, “he says.
They also make a lamb tour that includes brandy, cencibel wine and Pedro Ximénez. “If we are going to cook for a long time, the order does not matter in which we add the alcohols because they are going to integrate the same, but if it is to finish the dish, the brandy must go at the end and raw, “he warns.
“It is the same as when you finish a consommé, the same as it is done with consommés al Jerez, which You add the raw wine like the Fino de Cádiz to give that aroma at the end, which rises to the nose when you bring the spoon to your mouth, “he says.
In that world of raw and cooked, it also leaves a solution for all those who adore red fruits and are looking for a strong and sweet sauce. “We make a red fruit and red wine candy“, he confesses, that” deer, wild boar or duck breast do well “, he specifies.
“We mix a kilo of seasonal red fruit, a kilo of sugar and a liter of red wine, we started from cold in a large casserole and let it cook for 25 minutes. It should not become a compote, but should be cream-like after passing it through the Thermomix and straining it, which is essential, because red fruit has a lot of residue, “he says.
“We strain it into a Chinese and from there you pass it into a bottle and you have a wonderful candy to decorate and accompany a deer or roe deer sirloin, or that duck breast,” he says. “You put some couscous, some green shoots, mark the duck breast and you add orange segments and you have a salad of 10 with a chopped hazelnut vinaigrette, lemon, oil and a dot of soy, “he concludes.
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