Cooking with Gin
Updated: Oct 25, 2020
Any chef will tell you that adding a bit of acid to fat will help cut the richness of any meal and bring out a harmonious combination of tastes. Some of the classic examples are oil and vinegar to dress a salad, or adding a little lemon to your hollandaise sauce. The flavor and complexities of the organic acids in juniper berries offer a unique way to create a union between acid and fat. Food anthropologists have suggested that some of the early chefs would add juniper berries, which still grow abundantly across Europe, to their meat stews to enhance the flavor. Although you no longer need to forage for your own juniper berries, you can still elevate your culinary skills with a dash or more of gin thrown in. The addition of gin both with and within will liven the most mundane dinner parties.
As for choosing the right gin, we do not recommend a gin rich in delicate botanicals. Depending on the recipe, a strong, bold gin with pine notes or a barrel-aged gin will work well for not only light seafood but some heavier meats. For dishes that need a dash of sweetness, use a sloe gin which is already fortified with sugar or other sweeteners. But try it yourself. Take a waft of the gin and then a small sip. You should be able to feel the juniper on your tongue and imagine for yourself how it would pair with the dish.
Be sure to cook off the alcohol while not losing the delicate botanicals that give the dish its unique gin-ness. That said, not cooking out the gin long enough will result in a very boozy finish that you might as well serve up in a martini glass.
Experiment on your own and learn from your success and failures. Once you get the hang of it, the world is your still.