I am a self-named acid freak. I absolutely love highly acidic things — strong vinaigrettes, anything with lemon or lime, and I adore pickles. But vinegar is special…it’s great not only in salad dressings, but also in sauces, used in pickling, is a great flavor enhancer, perfect in marinades and so much more! There are so many kinds of vinegar available now, that I thought I’d share some thoughts on uses for different vinegars. If you are interested in any of the recipes for the suggestions below, just post a comment here and I’ll post it.
Red and white wine vinegars are probably the most standard, and are readily available in all grocery stores in varying brands and levels of quality. As with all ingredients I always recommend getting a higher quality product for better flavor and results. That said, these vinegars are perfect for salad dressings and meat marinades. My favorite stand-by salad dressing is about 1 Tbsp vinegar mixed well with a tsp of Dijon mustard, a pinch of sugar, a minced clove of garlic, salt & pepper. Then gradually whisk in about 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil.
Champagne vinegar is more delicate in flavor and is also outstanding in salad dressings. I make a dressing with this almost exactly like the above, but minus the garlic which is a bit overpowering for the champagne vinegar. Try it on a salad of arugula leaves or butter lettuce with avocados, toasted pine nuts and fresh made croutons.
Balsamic comes in many, many forms. The white balsamic is quite mild and delicate, but the darker is the more commonly used. Some are highly concentrated, and almost syrupy. These are ideal for mixing with extra virgin olive oil and some of your favorite herbs for bread dipping. The normal balsamic is perfect for a sauce, particularly for pork or beef. A reduction of balsamic with savory herbs, garlic and stock is a fabulous sauce that you will love!
I really love tarragon – the slightly licorice-like taste is perfect with vinegar. Of course that combo is a must in béarnaise sauce, and it’s also great in a fricassee of chicken with shallots, tomatoes, and fresh tarragon. That dish is a favorite Provencal style dish that is a staple in my kitchen.
Rice Wine Vinegar
This is used mainly in asian foods, and is perfect in dipping sauces for asian goodies (like gyoza or pot stickers) and is sublime in chinese chicken salad. For the dressing, I usually mix rice wine vinegar with some garlic and onion powders, salt & pepper, a little mirin (sweet rice wine), chile oil, vegetable oil and a little soy sauce. I make a mean chinese chicken salad, and happy to share the recipe if you’re interested.
One cannot have fish & chips without malt vinegar. That’s really the whole purpose in life for malt vinegar in my personal opinion (not that there aren’t other good ways to use it), and a marriage made in heaven. I have a wonderful spicy-battered fish and chips recipe with lemon-habanero tartar sauce that always comes out light and crispy. Perfect with some malt vinegar that has had some serrano chiles infusing their kick. Happy to share that one too…
This vinegar is the perfect thing for southern-style barbecue sauces and mops, but is also my favorite for brining. Try brining some pork chops in cider vinegar, salt and sugar for a few hours and you won’t believe how delicious and moist they are!
Share in a comment what your favoriate vinegar is, and how you use it!