Five Ways to Barbecue with Booze
If you think you deserve a drink after pulling off a successful summer barbecue, you’re absolutely right. But next time, try using a little of that extra alcohol to amp up the flavours of whatever meat you’re making with a boozy glaze, a wine-spiked sauce or a beer-filled brine. But the goal isn’t to make your dish taste like a shot. “You’re looking for small nuances,” says Jason Dady, a chef and restaurateur from San Antonio, Texas. “You want the flavour of whatever you’re using in there – and when you’re talking about barbecue, you want things that give that oaky, smoky, toasty flavour.”
Dady shares five ways to put your booze cabinet to even better use than usual.
What Kind: Woodford Reserve
Why it’s so great: “It’s nice, mild and not over-proofed, so it’s not going to be a complete punch in the mouth,” says Dady, “And it’s great in a glaze.”
Use it with: Baby back pork ribs. Dady often considers the food an animal eats when he decides what to pair with the meat. In this case, corn – a staple of a pig’s diet and a main component in bourbon-making process – is the common thread.
What to do: Rub the ribs with a little salt, pepper and cumin powder, then smoke them on the grill. Blend come bourbon with a some peach jam, then glaze the mixture over the ribs a few times during the last hour and a half of cooking time. The result is both smoky and sweet. “It’s the perfect summer dish with a great flavour,” says Dady.
What type: Dos Equis
Why it’s so great: Beer is best used in a marinade because of the combination of its effervescence, hoppiness and malt flavour. Dady adds that Mexican beers work especially well because they’re a bit lighter and not too hoppy, making them excellent for a light brine.
Use it with: Chicken Thighs. Dady calls them the greatest invention of all time. “They’re impossible to overcook, the skin gets nice and crispy and they stay super moist,” he says. “It’s a foolproof way of feeding a bunch of people for a low price.”
What to do: Make a brine (which pulls impurities out of the bird, imparts flavour and keeps the meat moist) by whisking together equal parts water and beer with a little sugar and salt. Soak the chicken for at least four hours, and as long as 24. Then grill the thighs skin side first until the fat starts to render and the skin is crisped – about 10 to 12 minutes.
What type: A big oaky Chardonnay
Why it’s so great: White wine makes for amazing for sauces. Choose one that’s spent a good amount of time in an oak barrel – it’ll be a genius accompaniment for grilled fish.
Use it with: Salmon
What to do: Grill a filet of salmon. Mince a couple of shallots and combine with a cup or two of white wine in a saucepan on a burner and reduce until the mixture gets syrupy. Then add some cream. When you’re ready to serve the salmon, whisk some butter and lemon juice into your sauce and then top the fish with it. “You’ll get this nice, rich butter sauce that helps cut through that rich salmon,” says Dady.
What type: Zinfandel
Why it’s so great: It’s a bigger wine with a peppery component and it imparts a tonne of richness.
Use it with: Korean-style short ribs
What to do: Dady likes to mix some Gochujang (a fermented Korean chilli paste) with the red wine and soak the ribs overnight to marinate. To cook, get your barbecue super hot and grill them like crazy, getting as much char as you can and flipping them back and forth frequently. “Korean ribs have that great fat component and you get the richness from the wine and the smoked fermented pepper from the Gochujang,” says Dady. “It’s a pretty awesome dish.”
What type: Amaretto
Why it’s so great: Liqueurs are perfect for cooking because they have a specific flavour profile built into them.
Use it with: Peaches
What to do: Cut a few peaches in half and soak them in Amaretto for a couple of hours. Spray your grill with a non-stick spray, set it to high, and put the peaches on the grill, pulling them off before they’re cooked through (the equivalent of medium rare in meat terms). Then let them rest for a few minutes. Serve with whipped mascarpone if you like, but plain is just fine, too. “This is such a killer and quick dessert,” says Dady.