Thursday, December 24, 2009

Mailbag-Making Homemade Infused Vinegars

Making Homemade Vinegars

Chef Mike,

I am looking for some different vinegars to spice up our foods, I really like balsamic and raspberry vinegar. After reading through your newsletters and visiting your club, I noticed that we had similiar tastes. Could you recommend some different products we can buy or make to spice up our "dishes of repetition".

Peace, hugs and puckery vinegar,
Sam and Diane

Before I go into answering the question, I find it pretty comical that people are adding their own ending to my “Peace, Hugs and Cookies” phrase. Thanks for the letters and emails and as always am looking forward to more questions from our readers.

I am writing this without knowing anything about Sam and Diane's diet or exactly what they are talking about. So I am going to give y'all a couple different vinegars that I really enjoy, being I have no idea where the question is coming from, nor where the CheffyBabbles are going to lead us, typical chefmike story...

Chili Vinegar

I like this vinegar by itself, in vinegarette for salads or marinade, on potato chips when made with malt vinegar, as a base for beurre blanc (butter sauces), heck,  it has peppers in it, I like it with a lot of stuff. I like to use this with the 'cheaper' vinegars, I do not necessarily like 'spoiling' the flavor of a good vinegar with infusions. Infuse your flavors when you make your sauce, not as a vinegar. When I say 'cheaper' vinegars, I mean any white, red, apple cider or malt vinegar. Regardless of the quality of these vinegars, I still consider them the 'cheaper' vinegars.

10 dried chiles *
2 cups vinegar

Steep the chiles for 2-14 days, depending on how hot you want it. Strain through a sieve, reserve 2 chiles.

Pour the vinegar into two half-pint jars with 1 chile in each, seal and keep in cool, dark place.

*chefmike note-I do not recommend chile anchos for this recipe, I tried it once and the flavor of the chile anchos was too strong for the vinegar. anyone that has used chile anchos can basically understand what I mean. I like tepins, cayennes, and of course, chiles chipotle.

Rosemary Garlic Red Wine Vinegar

This is chungachungabam out of this world for marinating lamb in a vinegarette. One time I used this vinegar and emulsified it with roasted garlic oil for a rack of lamb marinade, and then used the vinegar as a base for the was to kill for...

1 cup of rosemary leaves
8 garlic cloves
2 cups of red wine vinegar

Steep all the ingredients in a quart jar, let it set for 4-14 days.

4 cloves of garlic (reserved from your infusion)
2 sprigs of rosemary

In two jars, put 2 cloves of garlic and 1 sprig of rosemary
Drain, split the vinegar between the two jars, seal and keep in cool, dark place.

Tarragon- Green Peppercorn Vinegar

1 cup packed Tarragon
1 tablespoon green peppercorn (coarsely crushed if in brine)
2 cups of white vinegar

Put tarragon in a quart jar and bruise the leaves with a wooden spoon.
Add peppercorns and vinegar, steep for 4-14 days
Strain and add 1 T whole green peppercorns and a couple leaves of Tarragon.

chefmike note-

If you have ever worked for or with me, and you read these recipes...HUSH!!!  (ha-ha)
The reason I say that is that in my kitchens, white vinegar is not allowed anywhere near my philosophy is that the only thing it is good for is cleaning mirrors, windows and greasy messes. I never use it ( to never anyway...) nor would I permit my staff to use it. Pretty silly, I know, but I cannot stand white vinegar...

Peace, Hugs and Puckery Vinegar,

Is puckery a word?

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