We all know why we drink alcohol… But why would you ever cook with it?
Cooking with booze can enhance a food’s flavours and ultimately improve your dish.
This process occurs as the alcohol bonds with fat and water molecules allowing the flavour to carry further such as in a marinade. Excess booze can always be cooked away (evaporated) leaving some of the alcohol’s flavour minus the bite.
Gin makes an interesting alternative to the many recipes which use vodka when being cooked. Using gin allows you to impart a wide variety of additional subtle flavours found through the large number of botanicals traditionally distilled in any gin.
Pro Tip: Steer clear of the really nice stuff as all the nuances of its flavours will be lost and toned down when used in cooking.
Entre: Pappardelle with Tomato and Gin Sauce (Serves 2-4)
Here’s an old favourite from Mary Berry that we modified for this à la carte menu.
- 25g butter,
- 1 x onion chopped,
- 2 x garlic cloves, crushed,
- 400g Parma ham chopped,
- 1 x can of tomatoes
- 150mls of the gin of your choice
- 1 x 200g carton of crème fraiche
- A handful of basil leaves
- 40g of Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper
- 450g of pappardelle pasta
- Melt all that butter in a medium-sized, deep fry pan.
- Fry the onion and garlic at medium to high for 5 mins or until brown.
- Pour in your canned tomatoes and stir in your chopped ham.
- Let it simmer uncovered for around 10 mins.
- Pour in the gin and simmer some more for another 5 mins.
- Add the crème Fraiche and basil and then simmer one last time for another 5-10 mins.
- Remove the sauce from the heat and add your Parmesan.
- Taste and season as desired.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente and then drain.
- Toss the pasta with the sauce and garnish with a few more basil leaves.
- Serve immediately with some more parmy cheese.
Main: Salmon and Avocado En Croute (serves 2)
Think a fancy and delicious salmon and avo pasty that’s easy to make and tastes GIN-terestingly yum!
- 1 x sheet of puff pastry
- 150ml of chopped smoked salmon pieces
- 1 x ripe avocado, chopped into cubes
- 1 x tablespoon of your fave gin
- 1 x tablespoon of lemon juice
- 1 x Fresh coriander
- Cut the pastry sheet into four quarters.
- Brush the pastry with egg and cook as instructed.
- Once risen, take the ‘lid’ of each square with a sharp knife and keep warm while the bottoms continue to cook until golden.
- Meanwhile, steep the smoked salmon in a bowl with the gin and lemon juice.
Now for the sauce
- 3 x egg yolks
- 1 x shot of gin
- 2 x tablespoons of lemon juice
- 1 x teaspoon of white wine vinegar
- 150mls of melted butter
- A pinch of caster sugar
- Salt and Pepper
- Whisk the yolks into a saucepan adding your gin mixture slowly as you whisk vigorously to stop it separating.
- On a low heat, as you continue whisking, slowly add the melted butter.
- Take off the heat and whisk in your cream.
- Add the avocado and salmon mixture before sprinkling coriander generously and heating through.
- Place the bottom pastry halves on four warmed plates and pour in the mixture on top.
- Top the now covered pastry bottoms with their lids.
- Surround with a nice vinaigrette salad to add some freshness to your plate and voila!
Dessert Gin & tonic sorbet (serves 8
A super easy 10 min dessert that serves up to 8 and tastes GIN-credible.
- 400g of caster sugar
- 400ml of tonic water
- 4 tablespoons of gin
- Zest and juice of 1 lime plus additional wedges to freeze
- Zest and half of juice from 1 lemon plus additional wedges to freeze
- 1 egg white
- Put the sugar into a pan with 400ml of water and gently heat until dissolved.
- Increase the heat and then boil for 1 min.
- Remove from heat, allow to cool down slightly.
- Next, pour your tonic water into a bowl before adding the sugar syrup.
- Chill in the fridge until cold.
- Once your tonic mix is nice and chilly, add the gin, lime and lemon (zest and juice) then pour it all into a container.
- Freeze until just frozen and still soft (This will take approximately 2 hours).
- Remove your sorbet from the freezer and break it up with a fork.
- Froth your egg white using a fork then add both to a food processor for a pulse
(Do quickly so it doesn’t melt).
- Pour the now mixed sorbet and egg white back into your container and freeze once more until solid.
- Serve the sorbet scooped into glasses or in small bowls topped with lemon and lime slices.
So there you have it. Everything you need in the kitchen for an easy win with just a bit of gin.