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.
I like to use Vermouth. I always have it in the fridge (martini guy here) and so I use when called for and also to play around with. There is a great recipe from Cooks Illustrated I like which was my first try with it a few years ago (see below). It was so good, I started using it more and more. I love it for sauces in particular.
NOTE: I often skip the brining stage, if I am pressed for time. Just salt and pepper the breasts and cook them.
Mustard is a wonderful addition to this recipe. Add it with the butter. Thyme, also, is a great to add. Or just use time rather than the sage, if that is what you have on hand. This has been a great 'base recipe' for me, to branch out and try all different kinds of tweaks. But always the vermouth!
Pan-Roasted Chicken Breasts with Sage-Vermouth Sauce
1 cup kosher salt (or 1/2 cup table salt)
2 whole bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts about 1 1/2 pounds each, prepared according to illustration
Ground black pepper
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 large shallot , minced
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup dry vermouth
4 fresh sage leaves , each leaf torn in half
3 tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 3 pieces
Table salt and ground black pepper
1. Dissolve salt in 2 quarts cold tap water in large container or bowl; submerge chicken in brine and refrigerate until fully seasoned, about 30 minutes. Rinse chicken pieces under running water and pat dry with paper towels. Season chicken with pepper.
2. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 450 degrees.
3. Heat oil in heavy-bottomed 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke; swirl skillet to coat with oil. Brown chicken skin-side down until deep golden, about 5 minutes; turn chicken pieces and brown until golden on second side, about 3 minutes longer. Turn chicken skin-side down and place skillet in oven. Roast until juices run clear when chicken is cut with paring knife, or thickest part of breast registers 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer chicken to platter, and let rest while making sauce. (If not making sauce, let chicken rest 5 minutes before serving.)
4. Using potholder to protect hands from hot skillet handle, pour off most of fat from skillet; add shallot, then set skillet over medium-high heat and cook, stirring frequently, until shallot is softened, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add chicken broth, vermouth, and sage; increase heat to high and simmer rapidly, scraping skillet bottom with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits, until slightly thickened and reduced to about 3/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Pour accumulated chicken juices into skillet, reduce heat to medium, and whisk in butter 1 piece at a time; season to taste with salt and pepper and discard sage. Spoon sauce around chicken breasts and serve immediately.
I've splashed a bit into braises if I had no plain white handy, and so long as the dish was flavored heartily enough the herbal element has never caused any problems. My late ex-father-in-law's one major culinary achievement (aside from killer lamb kebabs) was sautéed mushrooms finished by deglazing the pan with a bit of vermouth and pouring that over the dish.
Given that we always have a bottle of white in the refrigerator and havent developed a taste for it as an aperitivo,we never buy vermouth.
Vermouth was just a convenient way of getting white wine into dishes, in a period when people drank martinis but nor a lot of table wine.
I often prefer it to other wines--it's not sweet and I like the subtle herbal notes-for cooking, but agree that I probably wouldn't substitute it for a substantial amt. of white wine (1/2 c. or more). It's worked wonders for me in sauces for chicken, shellfish, and some fish, mushrooms, etc. Mostly, I love its handiness. And if we've opened a nice bottle of white, we want to drink it.
Don't say you'll never make any other kind of stew, puleeez. You must try Carbonnades a la Flamande - beef with beer instead of wine - another wonderful stew.
I wonder if any Hound has tried the spectacular braised mean dish (too lazy to go look right now) with beef, pork, and chicken. I've always wanted to...maybe I will this fall. Her description of what will occur when you present this dish to your guests is funny and terrific. Something along the lines of "You bring out the pork! And then, to the amazement of your guests, you spear the chicken and lift it from the pan."
I use vermouth frequently in cooking (but never in my martinis!). The choice of brands is very paramount. My favorite is French Noilly Prat, dry and crisp. I read on this board that recently Noilly Prat changed their formulation from a vermouth made specifically for martinis to one more amenable to general purpose uses.
Boissiere used to be the best Vermouth, imho. Came from the French Alpine town of Chambery. About 15 years ago they sold the company to some Italian one, and now I think Boissiere tastes like water, by comparison to the original formula.
I also don't care for Martini & Rossi vermouth, at all.
I don't drink the (Noilly-Prat) vermouth, and haven't noticed a difference in the flavor when I'm cooking with it .
Who else even makes Vermouth, anyway?
I read on this board that recently Noilly Prat changed their formulation from a vermouth made specifically for martinis to one more amenable to general purpose uses....Tom Swift
Idiots! WHY do people insist on fixing things that aren't broken? I hope their sales go through the cellar! Damn.... I'm on my last bottle. <sigh>
I used vermouth quite a bit in Julia Child's dishes because, growing up in a midwestern household in the 1960's, I found that my parents always had white vermouth (for martinis) on hand, but rarely had other white wine available, unless I planned well ahead and had a lot of money. However, as I became older and finally had access to a car, I found that I preferred a dry white wine to vermouth in all of Julia Child's dishes because vermouth often has a bitter aftertaste.
I am uncertain whether this had to do with the age of the vermouth my parents had on hand, or whether it is just a characteristic of white vermouth, but I really think that a dry white wine (Julia's usual first choice) works better. I think it probably has to do with the herbs added to the vermouth. (Europeans seem usually fond of bitter drinks, such as Campari, DuBonnet, and gin and tonic, not to mention dark chocolate with an awful lot of bitterness. Perhaps the use of vermouth is more of the same, which Julia learned from the French?)
On the other hand, Julia forgot more about cooking than I'll ever know and she is one of my true heroes, so maybe I'm wrong.
I've been using white vermouth as a cooking wine for at least fifty years now. Like Julia, I do prefer Noilly Prat, but if I run out and cant' find a place that carries it, just about any white vermouth will do. I would not say it can substitute for any or all wines in cooking. I cannot imagine doing a boeuf Bourguignon or coq au vin with vermouth! But it does work very well in pan sauces. A favorite is after grilling a prime steak or two in a cast iron pan, move the steaks to a warm plate to rest, then add some chopped shallots or thinly sliced sweet onions to the pan, brown in the frond, when soft and just beginning to carmelize, add some white vermouth (fairly generous amount) and a lesser amount of cognac. I often add a bit of Hungarian sweet paprika for a lovely color and flavor. Simmer a minute, remove from heat, melt in a Tbsp of butter to glaze and thicken the sauce, then spoon over the top of the steaks and serve.
I also do a roast duck with black olives (For heaven's sake, NOT California canned mission olives! blech!), that is delicious. When the duck is roasted, deglaze the pan with white vermouth, add some Kalamata or Nicoise olives, a bit of chopped parsley, simmer and stir. Serve over the roast duck.
Oh and always season at the end with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Staples on my cook top are three pepper mills, a bottle of olive oil, a bottle of peanut oil, a large bottle of Noilly Pratt with pour spout in place, a box (yes, box!) of pretty good cabernet saufignon for those times when white vermouth just won't do, and salt box full f kosher salt. Easy cooking!
Okay, I have to confess.
I make a chicken dish cooked in vermouth that is fabulous. I made it one day after coming home from work and having limited time and ingredients on hand. It's a big hit and tastes much more complex than it is.
I am sharing the recipe even though some CH'ers will read one certain ingredient and will scoff. Well scoff away.
One-Pot Chicken and Vegetables in Vermouth
1 cut up chicken or up to 3 lbs. chicken parts
1 bag of carrots, peeled and chopped into chunks
5 potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks
1 cup Vermouth
1 cup chicken stock/broth
1 can cream of celery soup (there I said it)
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 teaspoon thyme
salt and pepper to taste
Place chicken and vegetables in a baking pan. Mix remaining ingredients. Pour over chicken. Cover tightly. (I often use a Reynolds cooking bag.) Bake at 350 for an hour or so until done.
`Nothing wrong with canned soup as long as you aren't allergic to any of the ingredients, or don't object to some of the contents. I pretty much read labels and anything with "hydrolized" anything stays on the store shelf.
You could probably get a very similar outcome by adding a few celery leaves off the top of a head (much more aromatic than the stems), adding a bit of corn starch to the stock/broth (to make up for the loss of thickener from the canned soup), and maybe a dollop of sour cream or just plain old whipping cream to "velvetize" the flavor and add the creamy opacity you get from the soup. Sounds delicious!
I started using vermouth a couple of years ago. I had ran out of white wine and was making chicken picatta, a dish that easily uses a cup of dry white wine. The meal was so flavorful, better than usual that I began to use it in place of white wine for that dish.
I've always cooked with both red and white wines, especially stews and sauces ( and pasta too) and found that the sauces that I previously used white wine, were better with vermouth.
While I would not turn my nose uo to wine, I find that given the choice, vermouth works better in my recipes. I've never tasted any bitterness. I love to use it with chicken, shrimp and salmon in their sauces. I make a few dishes that call for white wine, butter, garlic, and follow with fresh Italian parsley. I especially enjoy the grassiness of the parsley with the vermouth. Another spice that I think works well with vermouth is a ground curry spice (I make my own mix so it is rather hot), but even the prepackaged version would be very nice.
re: chef chicklet
Just for you Chef Chicklet,
Lemon Garlic Chicken (with Vermouth)
1 lb. boneless chicken, pounded thin into cutlets
salt and pepper
2 eggs plus one teaspoon water
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/3 c. fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken broth/stock
1/2 cup dry Vermouth
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup bread crumbs - regular, panko, or mixture of both
Olive oil or vegetable oil for pan frying
1. Season chicken cutlets lightly with salt and pepper.
2. Place flour in a medium bowl or pie pan.
3. Place bread crumbs in another bowl or pie pan.
4. Beat eggs and water together in another bowl or pie pan.
5. Dip cutlets in flour, then coat in egg mixture, then coat in bread crumbs.
6. In a large frying pan heat one inch of oil till almost smoking. Fry cutlets in batches. Fry on one side till golden, flip, and fry till golden on the other side.
7. Remove cutlets from oil and drain.
8. Clean frying pan and over medium heat, melt butter with garlic, then add broth and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer and let cook down for a couple minutes.
9. Return cutlets to the pan and flip and coat with the sauce. Simmer until sauce has reduced down by at least half.
10. Serve hot with long grain and wild rice.
Thank you tu!!! I really appreciate you doing this, my mouth is watering! It's about 7:30 am, and I would love some of this right now!
I'll be making your lemon Garlic Chicken with Vermouth for dinner one night next week! And actually I know exactly who to invite for dinner to share this with! My youngest son and his girlfriend. He, like his mom, is also very fond of lemon and chicken together.
seafood is good with vermouth, like shrimp scampi.
also, sauteed mushrooms with butter and vermouth.
One good thing about vermouth is the consistency. I think Julia mentions this in Way to Cook (or not). But when you use vermouth, your dish is always the same, but wines vary so much from types and years. I have never noticed vermouth interfering wth a dish, but I usually use wine because I have some open--or else the cook wants some open!
My memory recalls Julia specifically discouraging using the most popular vermouth (Then again, the more time I spend w/ my memory the more I realize it can't be trusted. So maybe someone can shed more light on this.). I took that to mean Martini & Rossi.
In researching to verify I came up w/ this from an article in the SF Chronicle after her passing:
"Raise a Cup to honor the life of Julia Child
In the early 1990s, when I was just starting to write professionally, I was asked to pen a piece on vermouth for a trade magazine.
"Call Julia Child," I was told. "She swigged vermouth from the bottle on television once."
"I most certainly did not," she informed me. "And I'm happy to report that the man who started that rumor isn't doing very well professionally," she added. She did admit to enjoying vermouth, though, and she was known to favor it over white wine when cooking. Her first book, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" (Alfred A. Knopf), written with Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck, advises that "a good, dry, white vermouth is an excellent substitute, and much better than the wrong kind of white wine."
Julia, and alcohol, aficionados will want to read the rest of the article. Julia talks martinis (reverse) and there's a formula for a Julia tribute cocktail :
I am the OP of this topic, and wanted to thank all of you for your inspiration, comments and ideas.
Because I wasn't sure what to expect, I bought the smallest bottle of Vermouth I could find, which happened to be Martini and Rossi. From all the comments here, I'm guessing it wasn't my best choice. I'm okay with that. I liked it well enough, but I felt like it was missing something...it seemed too sweet to me, and too herby for a mixed drink. I'm thinking that a better brand would change my mind.
I tried the recipe suggested by Tom P (chicken in sage vermouth sauce) and enjoyed it.. I do see what everyone meant by not using a large amount in recipes, maybe a half cup or less, or using vermouth as a finishing sauce. Then again, buying a better or different brand may give me better results.
Caroline, thank you for your steak and duck suggestions, I will try them soon!
Oakjean, I had forgotten the beef in beer stews, when I said I didn't want to try any other recipes, lol. My husband loves my beef stew made with Guinness Stout..
Although I enjoyed the Beouf Bourguignon recipe of Julia's, I am not a fan of beef stews. I think I am the only person I know that doesn't like brown gravy! But, my husband, and the people I cook for, do like gravies. So, I think I will continue to try different pan sauces and gravies with wines I haven't used before. Thank you all so much for the ideas.
Dry white vermouth gets used occasionally in recipes in the Harters household but in its own right and not as a substitute for white wine - as others point out the flavourings in vermouth may affect the finished dish.
My godfather served in Italy in WW2 and developed a taste for red vermouth and it became his drink of choice.
Last night I finished my Calves' Liver & Sweet Onions with Crémant de Bourgogne, a very fine Champagne substitute (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay etc etc.) Was what I had open.
Also a dash of Oloroso Solera Sherry - since we're talking fortified wines! I've gotten 5 years out of one little 500 ml bottle of Oloroso, and the sherry's deep flavor & aromas are not wasted in the dish - it's a very complex finishing touch in sautees and braises of meat or chicken.
To preserve leftover wine a few months it is acceptable to freeze portions of it for later cooking, just like your homemade stock. Some people use ice cube trays or small containers; suggest one always label things.
I have Julia Childs two volume set, Mastering French Cooking. I bought it on Amazon, but if you look at the listing carefully, you will see options to buy most books used. The set I bought was never read, lucky me! Excellent reference for PROCESS and recipes- she uses Vermouth in many recipes. The recipes are simple, common ingredients, and can teach you applications for other recipes. Buy it!
Gallo vermouth is much better than Martini & Rossi. No bitterness. Inexpensive. And swig-worthy.
I use dry vermouth all the time in cooking, since opening a bottle of wine is impractical when just cooking for myself. Works for me! I like Noilly Prat better than the others I've tried, makes an outstanding martini too, and I dislike Martini & Rossi and Stock.
SHEESH! I've got to start looking at dates BEFORE I respond! I see I contributed to this discussion four years ago! Oh, well. I'm going to let this post stand because I think I may have covered some points that some may find useful. I hope. NOTE TO SELF: Check the dates, Dummy!
I began watching Julia Child in the early 1960s with her first run PBS show, "The Art of French Cooking." I know this is going to sound food snobbish, but I don't mean it that way. I watched because I had just returned from living in Turkey for four years where I was (finally!) taught how to cook classic French haute cuisine and classic Ottoman cooking by my newly retired chef/housekeeper. Fatma was (or so I was told by her former employer who graciously passed her on to me when she insisted she was tired of cooking in restaurants and wanted to go into private service) the only licensed woman chef in that area of Turkey. For three and a half years she taught me well, from knife skills to... you name it. So I watched Julia Child religiously to A. See if she could teach me anything, and B. See if she made any gross mistakes. It was pretty much a draw. '-)
She did NOT use vermouth in place of all wines. She used it in place of white wines. The brand she (and I) used since then was Noilly Prat. Then misfortune struck about three or four years ago when they changed the formula, and it is sweeter than it used to be and "just doesn't taste right." BUT...! I haven't (yet?) found another brand I like better. But I'm still looking.
Some dishes just don't work with white vermouth, or any other white wine for that matter. Dishes such as boeuf Bourguignon, coq au vin, and other classic red wine stews or braises.
A good rule of thumb across the board is, "Never cook with a wine you wouldn't serve your guests to drink." This does NOT mean you have to cook with expensive wines. There are some very reasonably priced wines that are delicious. And it's also possible to pay through the nose for a great wine only to find it has gone "off" it's profile.
I do make risotto fairly often, and white vermouth is my "go to" wine for it. I have an array of "mis en place" ingredients that are always within easy reach when I'm cooking, and the wines I cook with include white vermouth, Shao Xing(Chinese) wine, mirin (Japanese) rice wine, Ozeki (dry) sake, and Black Box Cabernet Sauvignon. Yes! Wine in a box. Great for cooking. From time to time I also use Courvoissier VSOP, Grand Marnier, Sandeman Ruby Port, and Pernod. I'm currently out of Madera, but the fair city in which I live promises that it will soon be available in a liquor store near me. It's been a real pain living in a "dry" Texas county! You have no idea! Or at least I hope you have no idea. It's the pits!
Anyway, the key word in which wine to use and when is "EXPERIEMENT!" You don't have to season the whole pot with one specific wine, but take out a bit of the cooking liquid and use just a spoonful or two to flavor it to see if it gives the flavor profile you're after. And wine is best when it has the raw alcohol flavor cooked out before serving.
A good rule of thumb for testing flavor profiles while you're cooking is no more than three at one session. It's a rule adapted from perfumers, and it's a good one to follow. After more than three flavors/scents, you taste and smell starts getting a little numb and you're not really experiencing the flavor as someone with a fresh palate would. And remember, other ingredients such as herbs, garlic, onion, spices all work with (or against) the flavoring that wine and spirits bring to a dish, so your best bet is to take notes. And most of all, HAVE FUN...! Remember, it's the JOY of cooking!
Depending on the white wine, I can see how it could be delicious! Years ago, I was visiting my parents, and they always insisted I cook at least one meal. I can't remember exactly what I was cooking, but it did call for a veloute sauce, and it called for a good dry white wine. I asked my mother to dash up to the corner liquor store and pick up a bottle of Chardonnay for me. I assumed the liquor store would have a choice of French or California. My mother came back with a bottle of Spanish Chardonnay. It was a major lesson in "terroir." The predominant flavor of the wine was the dirt it was grown in! Cloying, throat constricting clay soil! It ruined the veloute. I sent my mother back to the store for a bottle of Noilly Prat, then used about 2/3 of the amount of wine the dish called for, with a little extra stock to fill the gap. MUCH better!!! That has to have happened more than forty years ago, and to this day I GREATLY distrust Spanish white wines! Not trusting my mother to buy wine goes without saying. '-)