Balsamic Vinegar and Oil

Balsamic Vinegar and Oil

How To Cook With Vinegar

Vinegar is often the central ingredient in marinades or other recipes. Its qualities give character and shape to dishes. However, vinegar is not always just a compliment or late component in a dish; it often takes on a more vital role and plays a key element in a dish such as Chicken Vinaigrette. In such dishes the vinegar will be less direct, more subtle, and its acidic qualities will help build a dish rather than overpower it. Balsamic vinegar on the other hand is used as a condiment that is used to create flavor once a dish is finished.

If you are going to use vinegar in a marinade, you need to understand how to do it. The acid in vinegar will denature and will effectively cook protein. If you submerge a fillet of fresh chicken in pure vinegar, you will be able to notice the changes taking place before your eyes as the acid gets to work at changing the cellular structure of the fillet and its protein. In effect, the acid will actually “cook” the chicken and give it a dry and unpleasant texture as a result of denaturing the protein. This is obviously not what you are aiming to do when you use vinegar. When you use vinegar in a marinade for poultry or meat dishes, it needs to be in combination with herbs, spices, and oils.

When vinegar is used as a marinade with lamb, beef, or pork, only the surface of the meet will become denatured, and it will not be effective in tenderizing it. To tenderize such meats effectively you need to use mechanical methods. If you use a thinner cut of meat, then success on tenderizing will be improved but a lot of fluid will be lost when it is cooked. For larger cuts of meats such as a leg of lamb or tenderloin, a dry marinade is far more successful, rosemary, lemon zest, parsley, and garlic working perfectly. Oil and vinegar marinades are excellent for flavoring smaller cuts of meat such as cubes of meat for a stew or kebabs and curries.

Because if the denaturing effect of vinegar, we need to make sure that we do not let this action go too far when we use it. Vinegar will prevent the coagulation of pH in sauces made from eggs. It can be used before the process has been allowed to go too far. Coagulation of sauces once they are emulsified is a problem that is irreparable, egg protein never becoming un coagulated; oils however can be used to emulsify and repair sauces.  In sauces that have a neutral pH the protein will curdle at a temperature of somewhere in the range of 160 to 175 degrees. By adding vinegar it is possible to heat the sauce further, up to 195 degrees. Under normal circumstances, sauces are elaborated at temperatures less than 160 degrees, the temperatures at which butter would separate from an emulsion. However, it is too easy to turn away for a moment and allow the temperature to rise too high.

Cooking with vinegar is completely different to cooking with fats and oils. For a start, the acidic taste of vinegar makes it unpleasant when used in large quantities and not mixed with other flavors. We must learn to use vinegar to enhance a dish and not to over dominate it. The small recipes showed at the start of the section show how vinegar can be used as a stand alone ingredient to contribute to a dish in ways that are often overlooked. It function in recipes in a similar yet more complex way, Mignonette.

Cooking with vinegar is entirely different from cooking with oil. First of all, we have a very strong reaction to simple acetic acid, and it is rarely pleasant when used in substantial quantities, unmitigated by other ingredients. We must learn to choose vinegar wisely and to use it judiciously, so that it enhances a particular dish and contributes its uniquely tart flavor without dominating the other ingredients. The Little Recipes that begin the section show ways in which vinegar can stand on its own, making a contribution in flavor so simple that it is often overlooked. It functions in a similar, though somewhat more complex, way in other key recipes in this section, Mignonette sauce being the perfect example of this. Oysters may not be a dish that you serve very often, but when you do you need them to be perfect. Vinegar adds aromatic presence to seafood dishes, flavoring the dishes and giving them a taste that is more delicate than that which you would normally associate with acidic vinegar. If you are not used to cooking with parchment, these recipes that are tasty and colorful can change your enthusiasm for the ingredient. Vinegar is a vital part of our every day cuisine. It is essential in all kinds of dishes from chutney to ketchup. It draws natural flavors from other ingredients, its tartness combing beautifully with the other flavors.

Nowadays, you will find many people who simply no longer cook and who rely on fast food restaurant and take outs. Others will rely on already prepared dishes that are widely available in stores, simply heating meals in the microwave. What we have in the cupboards of our kitchens is a far cry from the pantry of our grandmother.

It does not matter whether you cook often or rarely, it is essential to have a well stocked food cupboard. By having certain ingredients always at hand such as pasta, broth, and Tabasco sauce, you can quickly put together a meal. When you have a proper range of ingredients including oils and vinegar, then you will be able to diversify with what you cook. Always make sure that you have enough of all your ingredients in stock, this being possible by looking closely at your habits. For example, do not purchase a drum of olive oil if you will only use it twice a year. Always stick to sizes of both oils and vinegars that you will use within a six month period from the date of purchase. Many vinegars and oils will indeed keep longer for six months, but if they are left to sit on your pantry shelf for years they will start to deteriorate over time.

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