While wine probably gets the most attention in the cooking world as a useful ingredient, other alcoholic beverages work wonderfully in sauces and glazes for meat, desserts and other dishes. Whether you're preparing beef, pork, poultry, seafood or another animal-based protein, there's a perfect, easy, alcohol-based glaze to add depth of flavor and moisture to your meal. Bourbon is one of the more versatile options, and rum and cognac offer some delicious possibilities as well.
Things You'll Need
- Brown sugar
- Complementary ingredients
- Cooking brush
Preheat a large skillet over high heat for a minute or two. Opt for a heavy-bottomed pan that tapers outward toward the top, if possible, as this is the most efficient tool for reducing alcohol to make a glaze.
Pour the alcohol of your choosing into the hot pan. Try cognac or another brandy for beef or venison; bourbon for pork or poultry; or rum for many types of fish or shellfish. When measuring, keep in mind that you'll reduce the amount by about 3/4 to make the glaze. Bring the alcohol to a full boil.
Stir in other complementary ingredients. For example, add a few pats of butter and some minced shallot to cognac; add a bit of honey, molasses and a splash of orange juice to bourbon for a pork or ham glaze; mix in a little maple syrup, soy sauce and Dijon mustard with bourbon for a poultry glaze; or add a few splashes of pineapple juice to rum for a seafood glaze.
Return the liquid in your pan to a full boil, then reduce the heat to medium-high. Stir in a few spoonfuls of brown sugar to sweeten the glaze and help it thicken. Continue reducing the liquid, stirring occasionally with a spoon, until it's just about at the desired consistency, which generally takes around 20 minutes. Turn the heat off but keep the skillet on the burner and let the glaze finish thickening.
Apply the glaze to your cut of meat with a cooking brush. If you're cooking meat, poultry or seafood in the oven, put the glaze on for about the last 10 minutes of cooking time; note that for many seafood recipes, that's the entirety of the cooking time, so apply the glaze to the raw food. If you're searing, sauteing, broiling, grilling or otherwise cooking the meat, put the glaze on after cooking it.
Tips & Warnings
- Prepare your glaze shortly before you're going to use it. If you let it sit too long, it may thicken or cool more than you want it to. If this does happen, though, fix it by adding a touch more alcohol and putting the glaze back over the heat briefly.
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