Why You Should Be Mindful When Adding Vodka To Meat Marinades

vodka bottle and glasses
vodka bottle and glasses - Miguel Tamayo Fotografia/Shutterstock

If you're looking to add a dose of flavor to your chicken or steak, then you may want to consider a marinade made with vodka. Clear liquors like vodka pair incredibly well with poultry and seafood, giving them additional complexity. However, you should use that bottle of vodka sparingly.

While it's a bit of a myth that vodka is a tenderizer (unless you're using the bottle like Martha Stewart to bash your meat), the alcohol can affect the overall quality of meat. Specifically, alcohol can lead to a duller piece of meat if used improperly. The liquor prevents other flavors from reaching the interior. Likewise, the texture may be less than ideal if you overuse the alcohol. That can cause the proteins in the meat to denature, making for a poorer overall piece of meat.

For that reason, you should probably avoid letting meat soak in the sauce, so to speak, for an extended amount of time before cooking. Instead, consider introducing vodka into your recipe in a more limited capacity. Your meat will benefit greatly as a result.

Read more: The Ultimate Vodka Brands, Ranked

A Little Goes A Long Way

adding alcohol to meat in pan
adding alcohol to meat in pan - Miodrag Ignjatovic/Getty Images

Instead of adding vodka (or any other alcohol, for that matter) to your marinades, consider splashing a little in your pan before adding your meat. This prevents the vodka from negatively affecting the texture and taste. You should still get additional caramelization and flavor through this method. Alternatively, consider adding the vodka directly to the meat while it's sizzling in the pan.

By doing so, you mitigate the amount of time the meat is exposed to alcohol, but you will still get the added flavor of the vodka. Allow the vodka to completely burn away from the surface of the meat. Depending on your cut of meat, this could take several minutes. From there, you can add other seasonings, sauces, and marinades to the mix without worrying that they won't penetrate beyond the meat's surface.

If you plan to cook with vodka, consider proper safety precautions, as liquor is flammable. Keep in mind that different proofs of vodka have different burn times, so it's important to know what you're working with. Generally, 80-proof vodka will only burn for a short time, but higher-proofs may burn longer.

Make A Sauce With Vodka

vodka sauce and noodles
vodka sauce and noodles - Liudmyla Chuhunova/Shutterstock

Perhaps the best culinary use for vodka is making a separate sauce to pair with your meat. Vodka sauce is a tomato-based sauce popular in Italian-American cuisine. It's typically a combination of tomatoes, heavy cream, seasoning, and vodka. The vodka and tomatoes give the sauce a sweet and tart flavor, which combines well with the silky texture of the heavy cream.

Just as clear liquors such as vodka are typically best paired with white meat, vodka sauce also works well with poultry and seafood like shrimp. You can also pair it with Italian sausage, which works especially well when served with pasta. Think of vodka sauce as a flavor enhancer. The truth is you can use liquors like vodka in various ways in the kitchen, but you should reconsider using them to marinate your meats. Sometimes, it's better to just keep the two ingredients separate.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.