Vermouth in the Kitchen
Vermouth adds complexity to food, not just martinis
Most of us think of vermouth as an addition to a cocktail, especially martinis, but it can also be used extensively in cooking. For more on vermouth and its colourful history, check out the February-March 2011 issue of Wine Access, on newsstands now.
Luke's Wild Mushroom Orzo
Here's a relatively easy recipe to make; it should take about an hour from start to finish.
For the mushroom stock:
1/2 cup (1 oz) dried porcini mushrooms
1 sprig fresh thyme
For the orzo:
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 1/2 cups (4 oz) mixed wild mushrooms, washed, dried, and chopped into 2-inch pieces
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp coarse-ground black pepper
2 tbsp dry vermouth
1 1/2 cups orzo
To finish the dish:
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 tbsp roughly chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
Optional: 1 tsp white-truffle oil
To prepare the mushroom stock:
In a small pot, immerse the dried porcinis in 4 1/2 cups of water. Add the sprig of thyme whole. Bring the mushroom mixture to a boil over high heat, then remove immediately from the stove and set aside for 5 minutes.
To prepare the orzo:
Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepot. Add the onion and cook over medium heat until it takes on a light golden color, about 3 minutes, stirring regularly to prevent burning.
Add the mixed wild mushrooms and stir well to combine. Sauté; on medium-high heat for 1 to 2 minutes, until the mushrooms are just starting to color. At this point, but not before, add the salt and pepper (if you do it earlier, before the mushrooms have opened up, the salt will pull out all the moisture). Mix well to combine and continue cooking for another 30 seconds, until the mushrooms have started to reduce and color.
Move the pan well away from the heat (so you don't catch fire) and add the vermouth. Stir to combine and then return to the heat for just a few seconds, until the vermouth and mushroom juices form a syrupy mixture in the bottom of the pan.
Remove the pan from the heat, add the orzo, and mix well, so the grains are all coated with the pan juices.
Remove the thyme sprig from the porcini mixture and discard. Pour the porcinis and liquid over the orzo.
Return the pan to medium-high heat and bring up to a low boil, stirring well to combine. Turn the heat down to low, and keep the mixture at a very lazy bubble for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The orzo is done when it's swelled up and become tender, but still has a bit of a bounce between the teeth. There should be just a little bit of syrupy liquid on the bottom, but the orzo mixture should be a bit wet. (If you cook it till the liquid is completely absorbed, you'll have a sticky mess.)
To finish the dish:
Remove the pot from the heat. Add the butter and mix in well; then add the Parmigiano-Reggiano and continue stirring. Add the parsley and thyme leaves and mix well, until the texture of the dish is softer and richer from the butter and cheese and all the ingredients are well combined. If you're using the truffle oil, add it and mix well so the oil is absorbed. Serve as quickly as possible, topped with a little more of the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Serves 6 to 8.
Recipe: Courtesy of Luke Ostrom, Urban Italian: Simple Recipes and True Stories from a Life in Food by Andrew Carmellini and Gwen Hyman
Mustard and Rosemary Roasted Potatoes
Here's a recipe that reminded us of the famous Julia Child coating for lamb - only this variation has a wee bit of dry vermouth added to it. So delicious and so incredibly easy.
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp dry vermouth or other dry white wine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 lb red-skinned potatoes, cut into 3/4- to 1-inch dice
Heat the oven to 400°F. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the mustard, olive oil, vermouth, garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Add the potatoes and toss to coat. Dump the potatoes onto a large rimmed baking sheet and spread them in a single layer. Roast, tossing with a spatula a few times, until the potatoes are crusty on the outside and tender throughout, 50 to 55 min. Serve hot. Serves 4 to 6.
Recipe: Molly Stevens, finecooking.com
Here's a super-easy, fast recipe that calls for quite a bit of dry vermouth, so make sure you have enough on hand before you start. Makes great leftovers, with a side of rice and some gently steamed vegetables and crusty bread.
4 tablespoons butter
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1/2 cup dry vermouth
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 cup dry vermouth
1 cup sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat 4 tablespoons butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken breasts until golden brown, turning once. Pour in 1/2 cup vermouth. Cover, and simmer until no longer pink, and juices run clear, about 15 minutes. In a saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Sauté onion until soft and translucent, but not brown. Stir in 1/4 cup vermouth and sour cream; remove from heat. When chicken is done, pour sauce over. Season with salt and pepper. Heat only long enough to warm the sauce, but do not boil.