|Thanks to carofm over at sxc.hu|
I'm trying a new, hopefully, regular feature topic called Stock-Your-Pantry Sundays. Let's be honest - in order to cook from scratch, you have to build up a well-stocked pantry. It can't be done overnight, but with a well-stocked pantry, if you get a hankering to search the web for a recipe on Sunday afternoon, you should have most of the ingredients on hand. I'm not an extreme-couponer or a bat-shit crazy hoarder, but I think our pantry is pretty well-stocked for just about any last-minute recipe find.
So, for today, I want to talk about vinegar. A splash of vinegar can change just about any dish from "there's something missing, I just don't know what" to "WOW." We have our go-to vinegar sitting on the stove and while it's not the recommended storage method, our red wine vinegar doesn't last long enough to go bad.
Yes, vinegar can go bad. You're thinking "it's fermented - how can it go bad?" Trust me. An old bottle of vinegar can develop a smell - and taste - that is similar to a combination of rotten fruit and a soured wash-mop. Over-exposure to light and heat can cause vinegar to go bad. You'll know it when you smell it.
Like I said, our go-to vinegar is red wine vinegar. We prefer one that is made from chianti because it just seems to have a more smooth taste than a non-defined red wine vinegar. When I take a spoonful of something on the stove to Harry for a taste, his answer is almost always "needs a splash of vinegar." And he's right. Vinegar adds a brightness to dishes that you don't realize is missing until you actually add it.
I don't use as much balsamic vinegar as I used to, but I've found others that work very well. I still use the balsamic to make a vinaigrette for Caprese salad and it's my favorite when I'm marinading rib-eye steaks.
I use rice vinegar in almost all of my Asian sauces. I can't label the flavor as anything, but it adds a boldness without masking the other flavors in the sauce.
I really want to add a champagne vinegar to my pantry. I've read so many recipes for a variety of things, including salad dressings, that use champagne vinegar. It's on my shopping list.
Apple cider vinegar is my choice when I need buttermilk. I can't justify the cost of buttermilk when I use it so rarely, so I always make soured milk instead. In a one-cup measure, I pour in one tablespoon of cider vinegar. Then, I add milk until I have one cup and let it rest about five minutes or so until it has thickened. It's perfect substitute for buttermilk.
Do you have more than one kind of vinegar in your pantry? What is your favorite vinegar to cook with?