I rarely cook with wine, so I'm prone to all kinds of first-timer errors. A few nights ago, I made steak au poivre with a seemingly simple sauce. The steak was crusty and delicious, but the sauce was pathetic—astringent and thin. I told Executive Food Editor Tina Ujlaki my method; she stopped me when I got to the part about deglazing the cast-iron pan (which had given the steak an awesome crust). "You don't want to deglaze with wine in a cast-iron pan," she said matter-of-factly. So, for this wine issue, I went to one of the cooks I admire most, Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli of New York City's Butter and The Darby, to find out more about cooking with wine—and hopefully avoid any future mistakes!
Dana B. Cowin: How do you choose a wine to cook with?
Alexandra Guarnaschelli: I use different wines for different purposes. I reach for the cheap bottle that's in the door of my fridge when I'm making a braise, where the wine will cook for a long time. I save good wine for finishing a dish, when you can really taste it. It's just like olive oil. You've heard of finishing oil? That's how I use good wine.
- Cooking With Wine
- Tips on Cooking with Wine
- Splash in the Pan: Cooking with Wine
- How to Cook with Wine: A Master Class
- Using Mediocre Wine for Cooking
DBC: So you don't really cook with good wine?
AG: I don't think that's necessary. I would rather invest the bulk of my "wine allowance" in my glass and use the inexpensive stuff in the kitchen, because so many of the most subtle flavors cook off. What do you do?