This week, please welcome guest blogger Terry Findley, from wine.net. I myself cook with bourbon as well as scotch – especially for adding to a glaze for ham, meatloaf, etc. Cheers! -SN
How to Use Scotch in Cooking
If it were up to us, we think scotch is a drink so wonderful, so majestic and complex, that it should definitely replace other spirits such as vodka in all respects and purposes. Think about it: all spirits have the double quality of being very potent alcohol-wise, and of being infused with a unique taste that gives them an unyielding flavor. That flavor is only bestowed upon them after years and years of careful and slow maturation in special barrels and so on, but there are also plain spirits such as vodka that don’t really deliver a distinctive and strong flavor. They’re mostly alcohol with a subtle hint of flavor, but from our point of view, that flavor isn’t really strong enough to make them the least competitive compared to scotch. Since you’re here, you probably feel the same: nothing compares to the deep and complex taste of scotch.
But besides having it as it is or on the rocks, there are still plenty of things to be done with scotch when it comes to caressing your taste buds. Cooking with it may prove to be one of the best experiences you’ll ever have, and you don’t need to have chef skills in order to pull it off. No one is asking you to pour it in the pan and set it on fire or any similar tricks like that. Here are just three super-easy recipes that will make you appreciate the flavor of scotch in new ways.
Shrimps and pasta with scotch infused sauce:
Scotch is one of the best things which can happen to shrimps and as soon as you give this a try, you’ll understand why. You probably already know that shrimps and prawns don’t benefit from a long cooking time, so all you need to do is to melt a generous amount of butter in a frying pan and add the raw and deveined shrimps to it. Stir them around for 2-3 minutes, then add half a glass of scotch or so and continue cooking them for 1 minute more. The great thing about it is that the prawns will be cooked through and infused with all the scotch flavor they can muster, but the alcohol in the scotch will still be present. You can read a great recipe for this here.
Scotch caramel sauce for cakes and pancakes:
You know those containers of dulce de leche or caramel sauce for cakes or for spreading on pancakes or crackers? You can find them in almost any supermarket at the gourmet items section and they have a spreadable consistency. Well, one of the best things you can do for yourself if you have a sweet tooth is to mix 200 ml of caramel sauce with about 30 ml of scotch and store it all in a tightly sealed jar. Then, feel free to use it liberally for serving your brownies or pancakes. Since there’s no actual cooking involved, you will feel the full potency of the scotch and it will be wonderful.
Scotch sponge cake:
If you bake any sponge cake, or brownie cake, or loaf cake, or anything simple enough to make along those lines, then you know that it’s a simple matter of mixing the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients to create a smooth batter, which you then pour into a tin and bake. The wet ingredients are usually eggs, melted butter or oil (perhaps even melted chocolate) and a liquid such as milk. Well, what we are suggesting is for you to replace at least a bit of that liquid with scotch – the more, the better, as long as you don’t completely forego the eggs or the fat from the recipe. Most of the alcohol content will cook off, but the flavor left behind will be divine once you get that cake out of the oven! If you want a little extra kick, feel free to make a warm syrup using nothing but scotch and sugar and to soak the cake in it after it’s done. As well all know, few things are better than boozy cake and the pleasure should be extended beyond the winter holiday season.
If after a while of experimenting with these, you start feeling adventurous, feel free to use scotch for the finishing touch when glazing a steak or roast, or to infuse a lovely mushroom sauce for pasta with it and so on. The basic principles of using spirits in cooking and baking have been laid out in the simple recipes presented above, so whatever else you try, it will follow the same procedures.
As a general rule of thumb, if you use scotch in baking, then most of the alcohol will evaporate during the process, so maybe don’t use the most potent scotch in the world for this; not only will the final result be very far from the quality of the original substance, but you will also realize what a waste of a perfectly good drink this was. Don’t waste good and expensive scotch on baking projects, if you have a fancy bottle of scotch keep it for enjoying it simple or on the rocks, or, if you really want to add it to food, use it in pan sauces which don’t involve a long time of cooking. In baking, all you need is the final flavor, the strong whiff of scotch which will remain once the process is complete, and you can get that without using your best quality bottle for it.