is great and food is great, but sometimes you just don’t
want to go to all the hassle of preparing drinks and then
making a meal.
when it’s time for alcohol-infused food.
food with alcohol in it, or all around it, doesn’t just
save time and effort and the nuisance of cleaning up. It
also tastes good, sometimes.
"sometimes," because there is one potential
problem to preparing food with alcohol: It can have that
harsh alcohol burn, if you do it wrong.
prepared five dishes that do it right. They either cook off
the harshness or mitigate it by overwhelming the alcohol
with other, strong flavors.
for example, what I call PB&B — peanut butter and
bourbon. The caramel, vanilla and maple undertones of
bourbon are a perfect complement to peanut butter, and the
powerful flavor of peanut butter easily masks the harsh
helps that I only used a little bourbon, too. Just enough to
enhance the flavor of the peanut butter, but not enough to
compete with it.
wanted, you could just stir a few tablespoons of bourbon
into a jar of peanut butter and be done with it, but where
would the fun be with that? I made my own peanut butter —
it only takes a minute or two if you begin with a jar of
roasted peanuts — which made the spread much more
swiped a couple of brilliant ideas from Cody Goldstein, who
runs a cocktail and bar consulting firm called Muddling
Memories. Goldstein sweetens his homemade peanut butter, and
gets it ready for the bourbon, by adding raisins and brown
brown sugar sweetens it of course, but not too sharply, and
the raisins (which get mashed up with the peanut butter) add
a surprising depth, roundness and complexity. PB&B is
better than the sum of its parts.
looking for something a little more substantial, so I next
made a couple of entrées.
first was a riff off one of my go-to meals, seared chicken
braised in wine. Every once in a while, I braise the chicken
in beer, and while the results have been fine they have been
nothing to write home about.
then I had an idea, and now I’m writing home, as it were.
Instead of using any ordinary beer, I decided to go with a
wheat beer that has an undertone of orange — I used Blue
Moon, though Shock Top would work as well. And then I added
the juice from one freshly squeezed orange.
idea was to play with the natural pairing of chicken and
orange, while working in some of the tempered tang of beer.
A crushed clove of garlic and a sprig of rosemary was all I
needed more to make a richly flavorful braising liquid that
doubled as an excellent sauce. This dish is definitely going
to go into my standard rotation.
be making bourbon-marinated steak as frequently, but I might
pull it out on special occasions.
can probably figure out the genesis behind this dish:
Bourbon is a classic accompaniment to steak, so why not skip
the middleman and marinate the meat in the whiskey? To
soften the harsh bourbon burn, especially because I was
using a relatively inexpensive brand, I stirred in some
brown sugar and added salt.
only did the marinade beef up the taste of the steak, it
also made an already tender cut of meat more tender. And it
was not just tender, it was bourbon tender, which ought to
be a thing.
gotten the heavy food out of the way, it was time for
something lighter. It was time for a spiked watermelon, the
star of picnics everywhere.
a watermelon is easy, in theory. Just cut a hole in top of a
watermelon, and pour vodka into it. The melon will soak up
the vodka like a sponge.
it doesn’t. Watermelons are vodka-resistant, or at least
the one I used was. Getting the booze into the fruit was a
long, slow process. The only advice I can give you is to cut
several holes in the top of the watermelon instead of just
one, and pour the vodka in each. And be sure to use a
I soaked gummy bears in vodka. Yes I did, and I’m not
proud. I’m guessing they are a big hit in fraternity
houses, but I was not in a fraternity. So I made them.
what you do: You take a bunch of gummy bears and soak them
in vodka for 20 to 24 hours.
bears absorb the vodka, they swell up in size and become
vaguely mutant bears. They also become a bit slimy and a
they are kind of gross, with an intense flavor and an
unpleasant texture. And I keep going back to the bowl again
BUTTER AND BOURBON (PB&B)
roasted salted peanuts
tablespoon brown sugar
1 to 3
teaspoons peanut oil, as needed
2 to 3
If you want, you could simply stir 2 to 3 tablespoons of
bourbon into 1 cup of prepared peanut butter.
food processor, grind together peanuts, raisins and brown
sugar until it forms a paste. Add peanut oil, if needed, to
make it as smooth as you like. Add bourbon and process until
thoroughly combined. Keep refrigerated.
serving: 247 calories; 20 g fat; 3 g saturated fat; no
cholesterol; 10 g protein; 8 g carbohydrate; 4 g sugar; 3 g
fiber; 143 mg sodium; 24 mg calcium
from an idea by Cody Goldstein in Eat This, Not That!,
boneless, skinless chicken breasts
and black pepper
tablespoon vegetable oil
from 1 orange
cup orange-peel-infused beer, such as Blue Moon or Shock Top
garlic clove, crushed
crushed red pepper
sprig fresh rosemary or 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
tablespoon butter, optional
Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large
skillet over medium-high heat; when hot, brown chicken on
both sides. Add orange juice, beer, garlic clove, red pepper
and rosemary, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of
Lower heat, cover and cook at a simmer until chicken is
thoroughly cooked, about 15 to 20 minutes. If desired,
remove chicken to a platter, add butter to sauce in pan and
swirl pan until butter is completely incorporated. Serve
sauce over chicken.
serving: 305 calories; 14 g fat; 4 g saturated fat; 92 mg
cholesterol; 32 g protein; 9 g carbohydrate; 4 g sugar; 1 g
fiber; 178 mg sodium; 43 mg calcium
2 to 4 servings
tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon brown sugar
pinch crushed red pepper
a small bowl, combine bourbon, sugar, pepper and salt. Place
steaks in a baking dish and pour mixture over them. Flip to
make sure both sides are coated. Marinate at room
temperature for 1 hour before cooking, flipping the steaks
periodically to keep both sides coated.
Remove steaks from marinade and cook on a grill or stove top
to desired level of doneness. Allow to rest 5 minutes before
serving: 277 calories; 10 g fat; 4 g saturated fat; 74 mg
cholesterol; 24 g protein; 5 g carbohydrate; 4 g sugar; no
fiber; 631 mg sodium; 22 mg calcium. Nutrition analysis
calculated for 4 servings.
About 22 servings
smallish (15 pounds) watermelon
(750 ml) bottle vodka, about 11/2 cups
watermelon tends to roll, cut a small slice off the bottom.
Cut a hole (or several holes, to save time) in the top; an
apple corer works well for this. Use a funnel to pour vodka
into the hole or holes — be careful, only a little will go
in at a time. Keep topping off the holes as the vodka is
absorbed; this process may take several hours. Serve cold.
serving: 97 calories; no fat; no saturated fat; no
cholesterol; 1 g protein; 16 g carbohydrate; 13 g sugar; 1 g
fiber; 2 mg sodium; 14 mg calcium
1/2-ounce) bag gummy bears, about 3/4 cup
gummy bears in a bowl and cover with vodka. Leave at room
temperature for about 20 hours. Drain (you can serve the
remaining flavored vodka as a gummy-flavored drink).
serving: 130 calories; no fat; no saturated fat; no
cholesterol; 2 g protein; 20 g carbohydrate; 13 g sugar; no
fiber; 7 mg sodium; 0 mg calcium