Another Julia Child related question...Vermouth!
After seeing the Julia/Julie movie, I decided to try making Beouf Bourguignon. I asked everyone on this board if it would make much difference to make it in a crockpot, because my husband prefers his stew meat cooked to death. In hindsight, I can't believe I even asked that question, lol. What was I thinking? Anyway, I took everyones suggestions and made it exactly the way Julia said to. I even made my own beef stock, as suggested. by a fellow chowhound. Yes, it is very labor intensive, and I think I used every pot in the kitchen, but it was definitely worth it. It was amazing, and I doubt i'll ever make any other kind of stew.
I've been looking at some of Julia's other recipes, and I noticed she used Vermouth alot. She suggests using it as a sub for other wines, if you happen to be out of what the recipe calls for. I've never used vermouth before, and never even tasted it til yesterday, when I bought a bottle. Do you use it? What do you like to do with it? Any recommendations would be appreciated!.
Vermouth contains herbs which may interfere with a dish's flavors. Use caution when substituting vermouth for other wines.
An aside: I cringe when I see someone using a bottle of vermouth that's obviously old. Unlike hard spirits, vermouth is a wine and will "turn" in time.
Dry white vermouth is a good substitute for white wine. It is a fortified wine and keeps for a long time, whereas opened non-fortified wine will oxydize and go bad after opening.
That's why Julia preferred vermouth. She spoke and wrote about that fairly often.
I always have vermouth on hand for 'finishing' dishes...in the fridge and use it or lose it!
I used it twice this weekend: once for finishing the sauce for my Zuni Cafe mock porchetta recipe (it calls for porchetta). The second recipe, for (Fresh) Apricot Chicken with Lime, called for a white wine pan-deglazing but I used vermouth. the recipe was a big hit with guests.
I also keep dry vermouth in my kitchen pantry to use as a sub for dry white wine. I started using it when watching Julia on her PBS Bon Appetit show. No chance of a bottle casa mia ever going off though. We like a dry martini before dinner....
Remember that JC wrote MTAOFC in the 1950s when when wines weren't nearly as available as they are these days, when many people viewed table wines as exotic but when just about everyone with a liquor cabinet or shelf had a bottle of vermouth.
I find white vermouth fine for use in small quantities, especially in dishes where its flavour won't have much impact. For example, after pan-frying a steak, I'll often make a sauce by softening some chopped shallots in the remaining fat and then deglazing with a splash of white wine. Vermouth is good for that. But I wouldn't use it in a white wine reduction sauce (the "pour a bottle of wine into a sauté pan and reduce it by three-quarters" kind) or as a braising medium.
Red vermouth is generally best avoided in the kitchen, IMHO. Except for cooks to sip while making dinner, that is.
I agree that Julia was writing for Americans who might not have had access to wine to cook with and if they did, would have paid a premium for it. However, in my mind, I think decent white wine is cheap enough that I'd rather throw that into my pot for a cleaner taste rather than dry vermouth. Please drink the rest before it oxidizes :-).
On the other hand, I find sweet red vermouth to be a decent in some sauces, especially when I might want a little sweetness without adding lots of sugar or carrot. I've often used it to deglaze tomato sauces that will end up with cream (esp. if seafood is added). Here I think it is a very decent sub for I guess more traditional sherry.
I like the flavor dry white vermouth lends to sauces for fish and vegetables. Quick and handy. I don't keep the Vermouth in the fridge, but in my kitchen liquor cabinet.
YOu're right, though, be careful of that "herby" taste. You won't want it in everything that calls for white wine.