Saturday, March 15, 2008
4 A Weekend of Whiskey & Bourbon! (Whee-eeeee!)
No, that title isn't as bad as it sounds. Really, it isn't.
For some unknown reason, the other week I suddenly decided it was time to use up the extra booze in the house. And no, I'm not talking about going on some raucous, week-long drinking binge or anything quite so decadent & brain-cell-battering, just in case your mind was inclined to wander in that direction. ;-) If that's what you thought I was up to this weekend, then you obviously don't know me! ;-)
I'm talking about cooking with booze, people. In particular, the goal was to (eventually, over time,) use up everything we weren't going to be drinking anytime soon -- i.e., the hard stuff like Bourbon & whiskey -- & anything else that could probably cause hair to grow where it's not supposed to be. ;-) It was with this aim in mind that I'd put several bottles of whiskey & Bourbon on the kitchen table & examined each one, trying to decide which one to use first, & then once I'd chosen the bottle, what the heck I was going to do with it!
I was on a mission! (Sometimes I get in these moods where I just want to use up certain things in the kitchen, like excess spices, various dry goods, the half lemon in the fridge, the last drop of milk, & other heretofore unused, little bits & scraps, etc.) Well, mission accomplished. Not only did I dream up 2 totally new & original recipes incorporating booze as a key ingredient, but I also managed to use up almost two whole bottles of the stuff in my weekend cooking escapades! That's a bottle per recipe, two nights in a row. Whoah. (What a bunch of lushes we are. NOT! Heheheheh.) Now, we've got only 4 or 5 bottles to go! Hahahaha.
First, there was the rather ancient-looking, 3/4-full bottle of "Old Grand Dad" (i.e., Kentucky Bourbon whiskey) which looked like it'd had been a relic left over from pre-Civil War times ;-). This was the bottle I'd used to make a chicken dish the first night. (I assure you, the Bourbon tasted just fine in the recipe. Delicious, in fact.)
And then there was a blended whiskey (the name of which I've since forgotten by this point), which I incorporated in a shrimp dish the night after that. (Come to think of it, I think the brand was probably "Johnny Walker," since they apparently are one of the more popular makers of blended whiskey. And that, my friends, I had to look up on the internet, as I'm not exactly the world's foremost authority on the subject! ;-) )
Now of course, the reason I used so much booze was twofold: Aside from the obvious motivation to get rid of the booze, I noticed that even though my recipes called for 1 cup of booze, I kept having to add more & more booze to the dish while I was cooking it, not just to deglaze the pan in the initial stages, but also afterwards, to properly infuse the food with flavor & also keep enough liquid in the pan, as it cooks down considerably while the food is sizzling in the pan. (Yeah, I know, I could've used water instead. But anyhow....) Of course, the bulk of the alcohol burns off during the cooking process, so it's not like we're going to launch into the stratosphere after "tasting" the contents of an entire bottle of 80 proof Bourbon whiskey. Hahahahaha.
I figured that, at the very least, cooking with the stuff would be the safest way to "use it up." Especially since the resultant product would be mostly sugar & very little alcohol.
Nonetheless, I'd still have been curious to measure our BAC (blood alcohol content) after dinner just for the hell of it. Hahahahaha. Can you imagine getting drunk from such delectable dishes as "Honey-Glazed Bourbon Chicken" & "Bourbon-Infused Sesame Shrimp." Good thing we didn't have anywhere to drive that night, just in case. JUST kidding.
Let me qualify this whole excursion into boozeland by saying that Erik & I aren't exactly what you'd call "big drinkers" in general, & neither sets of parents are either. As for me personally, if & when I drink, it's usually going to be beer, wine, or cocktails. And I drink primarily to enjoy the taste of the beverage, not to "get wild & partay!" (After all, I'm a mature & responsible thirty-something adult, for chrissakes!) I do like a good mixed drink every now & then, especially with flavored liquors like crème de casis, etc., just as long as alcohol isn't the overriding flavor. I just don't do hard liquor by itself. It literally makes me ill (i.e., turns my stomach), & frankly, tastes like something that's supposed to be in a person's medicine cabinet, instead of their liquor cabinet. ;-) So, if I'm going to be ingesting hard liquor, it's either going to be masked by some sweet, savory, salty, or sour flavor in a mixed drink, or incorporated as part of a culinary dish.
So why then did I have all of this booze in the first place, if Erik & I aren't big drinkers? Well, a few years ago, I was throwing a big party at the house & my parents generously offered to help me out by donating alcohol to the cause, so I wouldn't have to bear the large expense of stocking my bar from scratch. (Previous to that moment, the only alcohol that I'd had in any great amounts at the time was several bottles of wine.) And let me tell you, my parents gave me an @%&*$!-load of liquor. Now, as they drink even less often than we do, they had been more than happy to get rid of the stuff that'd probably been festering in their attic since the early 80's or possibly even earlier. ;-) (I think the stuff was either from my parent's wedding or my coming-of-age party.)
In any case, all of the above anecdotes & background details were a just a preface of what's to come. Next up are the very creative, all-new & original whiskey & Bourbon-tinged recipes I just described!