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Mar 16, 2005 12:40 PM

Cooking with no alcohol

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How does one solve the flavor issues that come up if you exclude alcohol from recipes for any number of reasons? How can the acid, the richness and depth of flavor be replicated or at least approximated? Any advice is helpful. Thanks.

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    Eileen H. Kramer/Roanna

    I never seem to have cooking wine in the house or any wine since I don't like the taste all that much. What I've found works is either the juice from a jar of sour pickles, pickled peppers (banana peppers are best but sweet peppers of various kinds work well) or the liquid used from soaking dried tomatoes. I know this sounds gross but it actually tastes pretty good.

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      Chris Willging

      For this very reason, I recently bought a bottle of dealcoholized wine. I haven't tried it yet, but I imagine it will do the trick. I was cooking with regular wine until I read in Cook's Illustrated that there is still alcohol present, even after hours of cooking.

      1. Maybe I can get a consensus here, since I've never used it... but how about verjus?

        1. I experiment with citrus alot and include the peel as it adds complexity along with the bright notes. Also balsamic and sherry vinegars balanced with Worchesteshire sauce can get kinda close. Just play with layers of acid/salt (even soy/citrus) Another avenue is to keep the "gravy" left over from different dishes (freeze in little portions) to approximate the depth that a wine for example adds to de-glazing.

          1. In general I try to find an alternative that still has flavor, but can also provide the acidity. for example, if a recipe for roast chicken calls for deglazing the pan with white wine... use a mixture of fresh lemon juice and chicken stock (about a 1:3 or 1:4 ratio is what I like).

            Also, for quick flavor boosters, the next time you make stock, try simmering half down to a nice syrup. It is like instant boullion. But real. then pour in ice tray and freeze. Always good to throw in a pan sauce...