Alcohol isn’t just something you can find at a bar or wine and liquor store as a drink. It can also be found in many foods we consume. Knowing these foods is important if you are trying to avoid alcohol consumption; for example, if you are pregnant, you should avoid alcohol consumption of any kind. Learning which foods are cooked with and contain alcohol, even in small amounts, can help you if you are trying to avoid alcohol altogether.
Meat and Pastas
Many sauces for meats and heavy pasta dishes are made with alcohol. This can include glazes for meats, such as a whiskey-based chicken glaze or port wine reduction sauces that commonly accompany pork, beef or pasta dishes. Meats are often marinated in alcohol-based marinades, because alcohol can help break down the meats and make them more tender. Other popular dishes include chicken or sirloin marsala, chicken piccata and various risottos.
Vanilla extract contains alcohol and is a popular additive in many dessert recipes, such as cookies, cakes and pastries. Vanilla can also be used in more savory dishes such as chili or as part of a meat marinade. While the alcohol usually cooks down to very low levels in these foods, a small trace amount is still present, so if you are seriously avoiding alcohol, avoid foods in which vanilla extract has been used.
Alcohol-filled candies are a popular treat for which alcohol isn’t used in the preparation of the food but is used as a filling instead. Some chocolates are filled with creamy liquors such as crème de menthe and coconut rum. Government guidelines require that these candies carry a warning of their alcohol content, so make sure you read any packaging on candies to insure they don’t contain alcohol.
Some foods use alcohol aesthetically and are lit on fire for a short amount of time as a show and to give foods a slight crisp. This can include popular desserts such as bananas Foster, meat dishes such as steak Diane, and ethnic dishes such as fajitas served on a hot plate. In these cases, the alcohol slowly burns away, but even after the flame has died, it’s important to know that the food still contains alcohol.
Beer is used in a number of different foods, such as soups and stews and even bread. Usually food prepared with beer will have it in the title, such as beer bread or Guinness stew, but if you are uncertain, read the label or ask the chef. Beer can also be used in grilling by pouring it over the grill as food is cooked atop it to raise the flames. As a result, alcohol can be present in the food cooked on the grill.
References and ResourcesSouthworth Associates: Guide to Alcohol-Free Products
Global Gourmet: Using Wines: Marinating, Deglazing and Finishing the Dish
Web MD: 6 Secrets of Cooking with Wine