Vermouth - It's Not Just For Martinis!

If you're like most of us, you have a dusty bottle of vermouth dating back to the LBJ administration lurking in the liquor cabinet. Unless you're a martini drinker, it's most likely to see the light of day only during the holidays (aka "Cocktail Season"). But wait! Don't put it back -

You undoubtedly know vermouth as the stuff you wave over gin to make a dry martini, but it's as useful in the kitchen as it is behind the bar. You can use vermouth almost anywhere you'd use wine, and you don't have to worry about it oxidizing - it has a virtually indefinite shelf life. And if that weren't enough, it's even cheap!

If you've ever wondered what vermouth is, here's a definition: It's a fortified wine infused with herbs and spices. If you've ever wondered what to do with it between martinis, following are some suggestions.

Vermouth's very versatile. In recipes, it can substitute not just for wine, but for a portion of stock or even water. Its acidity and herby overtones add interest and complexity to a wide range of dishes.

A few other ideas follow. (Perhaps they'll spark your own.)

  • Put half a cup in the poaching liquid for fish.
  • Use it to flavor the stuffing of your holiday goose or turkey.
  • Deglaze the pan you've cooked meat or poultry in with a quarter cup, and make a simple sauce by adding olive oil, garlic, and tarragon or sage.
  • Steam mussels in vermouth and clam juice with garlic and fresh basil.
  • Marinate chicken, beef, or pork in vermouth and a dash of Worcestershire or soy sauce.
  • Use a splash in fruit ice or cold fruit soup.
  • Add it to soups of all kinds - particularly hearty soups like bean, split pea, or lentil.
  • Add a few tablespoons to almost any pasta sauce, whether it's tomato, stock, or cream based.
  • Glaze carrots or sweet potatoes with a honey and vermouth mixture.
  • Soak raisins or other dried fruit in it before adding them to baked goods.
  • Brush grilled fish with a combination of vermouth, melted butter, and parsley.

Drunken Pork Chops with Apples

4 large pork chops
4 whole cloves
1/2 cup vermouth
1 Tbsp celery leaves
2 bay leaves
4 celery stalks, finely diced
1 Tbsp butter
2 apples, coarsely sliced
1 Tbsp brown sugar
4 oz. grated Swiss or Jarlsberg cheese
 
Preheat the oven to 375°F

1. Prepare a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and place the chops in it.

2. Place a clove on each chop. Add the vermouth, celery and bay leaves and place in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes.

3. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and sauté the diced celery for 5 minutes, then add the apple slices and sprinkle with brown sugar. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking for 10 minutes, until the apples become tender. Do not overcook or the apples will become mushy.

4. Pull the chops from the oven, remove the bay leaves and cloves, sprinkle with grated cheese and place under the broiler to brown. Serve 'em up with the sweetened apples and celery.

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