Q: When recipes call for wine as an ingredient what is the best to use? Is there a cooking wine?
A: When cooking with wine a quote from the late cooking master Julia Child comes to mind. “I enjoy cooking with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food…”
Wines are used in cooking to add flavor, to add acidity or to deglaze the skillet and make a flavorful pan sauce. It’s important to note when cooking most, but not all, the alcohol cooks off. You can use wines to saute with instead of butter or oil. Wines can also be used in marinades and brines.
When using wines, it’s always recommended to use a wine that you would drink. There are products labeled cooking wine, but generally not recommended. If you don’t buy wine often, it’s a good idea to buy the small bottles sold in four-packs. Each small bottle equals about 1 cup wine, so it’s an easy way to measure and it won’t go to waste.
With white wines, I typically use sauvignon blanc, chardonnay or Riesling. And in that order. I also sway toward wines on the dry side, unless the recipe calls for a specific wine. Keep in mind if you use a sweet wine, it will add sweetness to what you are making. Wines that have light fruity (pear, citrus) tones are best for poultry and delicate foods like seafood. With heartier foods, like beef and lamb, use a dry red wine that will have berry or cherry tones. Keep in mind that the tannins in red wine can impart a harsh flavor when it’s reduced over a long cooking time.
Fortified wines like sherry and marsala wines will have a deeper flavor and great for adding sweetness.
If you want to omit the wine in recipes, it will vary on the wine was used in the recipe. When wine is used to deglaze a skillet to make a pan sauce, substitute chicken, beef or vegetable broth or water. Some fruit juices also can be used depending on what you are making.
Try this recipe that uses wine to deglaze the skillet and make a pan sauce.
Pork Chops with Mustard-Tarragon Sauce
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 boneless pork chops (about 1 inch thick)
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 small shallots, finely chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
Juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon or honey Dijon mustard
Pinch of sugar
Pinch of salt and pepper
4 cups mix of frisée and Bibb lettuce, torn into pieces
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
Season the pork chops with kosher salt and black pepper. Add them to the skillet and brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast until cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes.
Remove the pork from the oven and transfer to a plate. Cover with foil to keep warm.
Set the skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat and simmer until wine is reduced by half. Stir in the cream and simmer until the sauce just thickens. Stir in the mustard and tarragon.
In a glass measuring cup, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, Dijon, sugar, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Pour over greens and toss to coat.
Place the chops on a plate and spoon sauce over. Serve with frisée salad.
Adapted from “Real Simple Dinner Tonight: Done!” by Real Simple magazine (Time Home Entertainment, $24.95).
Tested by Susan Selasky in the Free Press Test Kitchen.
327 calories (44 percent from fat), 16 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 4 g carbohydrates, 34 g protein, 620 mg sodium, 80 mg cholesterol, 1 g fiber.
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