Food Under the Influence Transcript

The Cellar

    [AB descends the ladder] For centuries, cookbook authors, recipe hockers, showbiz chefs and, of course the French, have touted the virtues of cooking with various forms of alcohol. Now, sometimes the libation in question is a high proof spirit. But those are going to have to wait for their very own show, because I want to spend some time with the more common, and yet more compelling, low alcohol players, wine and beer. Can they do everything their proponents claim? Can they intensify flavors, tenderize meats, liberate aromas. Or are these claims simply excuses to, tenderize the cook, if you get my meaning?
    Join us, won't you, for a half hour investigation, wherein we attempt to ascertain if wine and beer are actually ...

[Good Eats theme plays]

The Cellar

GUESTS: Yeast Puppets

    [shows two fermentation buckets] If we are to examine the roles that wine and beer can play in our cooking, we need to review how these miraculous fluids come into being in the first place.
    Wine is made from grape juice, which contains sugars, as well as a pharmacy load of chemical compoundslike polyphenols, tannins, anthocyaninswhich provide pigment as well as considerable antioxidant power.
    Beer is manufactured primarily from a grain, which is sprouted and roasteda process called maltingso that the enzymes inside can convert some of the starches to sugar. It is then turned into a thick stew called a mash. So, sugar is really the common compound here. And that's important, because sugars feed yeast.

YEAST PUPPETS: [emerge from the buckets belching]

    As we've seen in other episodes, the life cycle of a unicellular fungi, in this case Saccharomyces cerevisiae, is called fermentation. And nothing, not the type of grapes or grain, geographic location, roast levels, hops, all of that business, contributes more to the flavor and body of beer and wine than yeast, all right? Yeast produce ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, which makes them the heroes of college kids everywhere. But that's not all. Savory compounds, such as glutamic and succinic acid are formed, as are higher alcohols, that is alcohols that have more complex structures than good old ethanol does.
    If the various alcohols are allowed to come into contact with the air, other acids will be formed, and those can recombine with the alcohol to form esters: aromatic compounds that remind us of things like apples, pears, and berries, because they're in apples, pears and berries.
    Yeast can also create diacetyl compounds, which create buttery flavors. Oh, and of course, they make carbon dioxide.

YP: [yeast belch loudly].

    Too bad the alcohol they create eventually kills them off.

YP: [over dramatically die]

    Oh boy.

In the 3rd Century B.C., Egyptians were
malting barley and wheat to make beer.

The Kitchen

GUEST: Crew Member

    When deciding on whether or not to cook a food in or with wine or beer, I pose a crude but effective query, which is simply this: Would the food I'm targeting taste better with say, black currant jaman ingredient that I really think kind of magnifies many of wine's coarser attributesor bread, the edible embodiment of beer?
    Now, we'll try the test with wine first, okay? Let's say that you had a choice between chocolate, lamb shoulders, and potatoes. [shows plates of each] What would you choose?
    [camera zooms in on the chocolate] Oh, chocolate does have some fruity friends, raspberries, for instance. But all too often, the pairing only serves to underline the bitterness of chocolate, not its sweetness, or other complexities. So I tend to stay away from this choice, especially when heat is involved. Try again.
    [camera zooms in on the potatoes] Potatoes? Well here's the problem. The blandness of potatoes can be so overwhelmed by heavy fruit flavors that, well, they just disappear entirely ... [throws a potato to the side]

CREW MEMBER: [off camera] Ow!
AB: Sorry

... which is not really what you want. Try again.
    [camera zooms in on the lamb] Ahhhh, lamb shoulders. Interesting. You know, lamb is a little bit gamey and earthy, and that contrasts very, very nicely indeed with fruit flavors, especially plum, berry, oh, and of course, spices like cinnamon, which are common in many many wines.
    Also, and this is critical, these are lamb shoulders which contain a considerable amount of connective tissue, and therefore will be best prepared braised; that is, cooked at a relatively low temperature in liquid. And let's keep in mind, the main component in wine is water. So this would all seem to be a nearly perfect marriage of ingredients. But, we must choose our wine wisely.
    [at the cupboard] Here is the first and most important rule of cooking with wine. You never cook with cooking wine. Want to know the second rule of cooking with wine? You never cook with cooking wine! This stuff is absolutely abominable. Crummy quality, high acidity, and astronomic salt level. It's not good for cooking or for drinking, and I don't even know what this stuff is doing in here.

SOMMELIER: [appears with a bottle of wine]

    Now, white wines certainly play an important role in the kitchen. [looks at the label] Nice. But since they're a little trickier to handle and are called for by more recipes, we will focus instead on reds in this show. And of course, that only narrows down the selection to about 50,000 different possible bottles.

S: [exits and leaves with another bottle of wine]
AB: [inspects the label again] Nice selection.

    Remember though, heat changes everything, okay. And this ever so tasty, estate grown varietal with the kiss of oak, could become a real monster in the pan. [tosses it aside]

S: [horrified, he chases it down]

    Nope, your best bet is to stick with a blended red in the $10 to $12 range. Check the label for one or more of the following varieties.

Good cooking varietals:

    You might also keep your eyes peeled for two particular terms: "maritage", which is by definition, a blend and many of them can be had for a really good price. Also, "Côtes du Rhône" ...

S: [reappears with another bottle, this time, in a brown paper bag]

... most often indicates a classic French blend, surprisingly affordable, despite the fact that it's Franch. Both are quite tasty, and that's important because if I'm going to buy a bottle to cook with, I'm going to drink some while I'm at it.

AB: [tips the sommelier] Keep the change, my good man.

"I enjoy cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food I'm cooking."
–Julia Child

The Kitchen

GUEST: Leverman

    Now that we have settled on a wine with which to cook, we need to figure out how to get to it, and although many producers have gone over to the twist top side, most still employ some form of stoppage, which means we've got to have a ...

LM: I'm Leverman!
AB: Hi, Leverman.
LM: Citizen, allow me to help you with your hardware selection.
AB: Okay. Wow, that's quite a collection, Leverman.
LM: First and second class leverage makes cork popping possible. Take this tried-and-true traditional waiter's model.
AB: Oh wow, a classic. But don't most lever-based corkscrew systems also apply considerable side pressure thus requiring more force than should be required for such a job?
LM: I see you are observant, as well as annoying. Consider this dual lever, rack and pinion model.
AB: Well it's very efficient from a force standpoint. But you know, this screw assembly tends to rip out more corks than it actually pulls.
LM: How about this clamp and lever system, designed to maximize vertical force?
AB: Yeah, vertical force is great, but you know, this thing costs like $50, it weighs two pounds, and sometimes, once you get the cork out, it's actually kind of tricky to get it out. I don't think so.
LM: I see you're going to tell me that this two-pronged jobbie that grabs the side of the cork is better. Or maybe this hypodermic. Drive that in there like the scene from "Pulp Fiction."
AB: No, no, no, no, really. I just, I just think that, well, look at this little guy right here. You know, it's got a nice little worm gear. And check this out: see how it just, it goes down and this little attachment here. You push that in and you turn it. It cuts the foil. See, that's nice and easy. And then you push this down, and you just turn. See. And that worm works its way down into the cork. And when it reaches the bottom, it gently extracts it. See. See it's easy. It's nice and easy.
LM: But what if you suffer a debilitating wrist injury?
AB: Well you're right, that could happen, so look, you could simply break out this electric model. Watch. [demonstrates] There.
LM: You better hope you never have to change a tire again, or take a turn at bat, hit the slots, or have to open a bottle, buddy, because this I won't forget. I'm Leverman! [jumps off]

The first cork screws were derived from a tool used to clean musket barrels.

    Grab down your 10-inch wide straight-sided sauté pan and put it over medium heat, and leave it there for five minutes. Meanwhile, rub down four lamb shoulder blade chops with a little bit of oil, and then sear them for one minute on each side. There you go. 4 Lamb Shoulder Blade
    Chops Rubbed With
    2 tsp. Vegetable Oil

    I always sear meat that I'm going to braise for two reasons. One, it creates layers of deep, calorie-free flavor that you really can't get any other way. Two, the high heat damages the cell structure of the surface of the meat, making it more receptive to a marinade.
    Now I'll just repeat with the third and fourth chop. Yeah, we could probably fit these all in the pan at one time, but that would be crowding them, and that would definitely harm our sear.

    Then, let the chops cool down for a few minutes, and move them to a one-gallon zip-top bag. I like to put mine in this plastic container for stability. Just add them in. You don't need a lot of space. Get all the juices, and then add four rosemary spears, branches, whatever you want to call them. There, just as long as they're fresh. Then pour in your wine, 16 ounces of red. In this case I'm using a California meritage, but any shiraz grenache blend would do just fine. There.

4 Large Sprigs Rosemary
16 Ounces Red Wine

    [at the refrigerator] Park the bag, its contents, and of course, the leak-proof containment in the chill chest for three hours. And give the bag a squish or a shake every hour or so, just to make sure the liquid is well distributed. This step, of course, is called marinating. Why do it? Well I'll tell you one thing, it's got nothing to do with tenderizing the meat. Check this out.

    [at the kitchen countertop, showing two lamb shoulder pieces on a cutting board] Have a look. Two cuts of lamb shoulder, both alike in dignity. This one spent two hours in wine, and this one soaked for 24. And because of that, the outer surface is obviously a little darker, because of the prolonged exposure.
    But what of the interiors? [cuts into each] Now as you can see, the penetration has been about the same on each piece as is indicated by the discolored band there at the surface. As far as the deep interior, they're identical. That's because marinades, acidic or otherwise, really cannot penetrate meat, unless it's left there so long that the meat basically decomposes.
    This begs the question, why marinate at all? Well remember, wine contains tricky little chemicals called polyphenols. And recent research has shown that water and phenols can react with protein at the surface of the meat, hardening it, so that the moisture inside is less likely to get out during cooking. So, marinating in wine doesn't necessarily tenderize meat, but it may very well preserve the tenderness that is already there, which is not the same thing.
    Reactions also take place with the browning agents created during the searing, and that intensifies the overall flavor. And so, a short marinade in wine, just two to three hours, does serve a purpose. Going all night or several days, that's just crazy chef talk.
    [at the stovetop] When you're ready to cook, just dump the entire contents of the bag back into your sauté pan. Try to distribute the meat so that it's in a single layer, and kind of shove the herbs anywhere it'll go. There, that's fine.

    [at the oven] Cover and park on the middle rack of a 250 degree oven, and braisethat's what this is a sealed vessel, a liquid cooking environment, relatively low ovenfor three and one-half hours, or until the meat just pulls away from the bone.

250 Degrees

To save leftover red wine for cooking, freeze it in ice cube trays or muffin tins then move to freezer bags for long term storage.

The Kitchen

    When three and a half hours are up, it is time for the lamb to exit its wine-y bath. Just move the chops to a platter, and cover with foil while you build the sauce.

    Pour the pan juices into your handy dandy gravy separator. It really is the best tool for getting rid of the fat. Allow a few minutes for separation, and then pour two cups of the wine/broth back into the pan over medium low heat. Now this is important, okay? Wine is fragile stuff, and the hotter you cook it, the more ornery it's going to get. And by that I mean bitter, dull, astringent, nasty, okay? 2 Cups of Cooking Liquid

    Now wine is great for braises because they're typically cooked with low heat. But reductions? Well, they're often executed over a rip-roaring flame for speed's sake. Do not be tempted to follow this path, okay? Go slowly, and your patience will be rewarded.

    At this point we've kind of robbed the wine of many of its fruity flavors and a lot of the fruity aromatic esters that it once possessed. But, we can try to put them back by adding three ounces each of dried plumsremember when we called those prunes?and dried apricots, just coarsely chopped. Whisk continuously for about 10 minutes, or until the sauce darkens in color and slightly thickens. 3 Ounces Dried Plums/Prunes
3 Ounces Dried Apricots
    Okay, time to finish the sauce. Whisk in two tablespoons of ice cold butter that's been cut into four or five chunks. Now you're going to put one piece in, whisk until it's almost melted away, and then you'll add the next piece and continue to whisk, okay? The French refer to this as [beurre] monté, or mounting a sauce, which is basically creating an emulsion, okay? Just as you would, say, drizzle oil into a vinaigrette, you are slowly introducing the fat here because it is, of course, slowly melting off of the cold chunks. It's something that cannot be rushed, and you don't want to stop whisking. 2 Tbs. Unsalted Butter
    Last move, we're going to brighten up some of the flavors that may have been dulled down during the long cooking in the oven. A teaspoon of freshly chopped rosemary, and just one tablespoon of whatever wine you used, just to bring the aromatic qualities back. Give it a taste, and finish with salt and pepper if needed. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. 1 tsp. Freshly Chopped
1 Tbs. Red Wine

    [at the table] Ahh, here is a dish that's a perfect example of wine doing everything wine can possibly do. It's providing a cooking medium, a flavor base, a source of fabulous aromas, and even a sauce. It's ideal. Ha ha ha.
    [stops suddenly] Holy moley! I nearly forgot about the beer. [gets up to leave, the camera moves in as if to eat the food] D-d-d-don't. You keep your mitts off of that.

Leftover wine? Pair with the dish for a delicious combination.

The Kitchen

    Let us quickly conduct the same questionnaire as before, with bread standing in for beer. Now I understand some folks would say that bread goes with everything. But let's just play it out see how it goes, okay?
    Now, let us say that we had some lovely cod, a nice pile of kale, and a lovely cheddar cheese. What do you think?
    [camera tracks in on the cod] Oh, the cod? Well it's a very mild fish, and is often cooked in a beer-based batter, hence, fish and chips. But that is another show. Try again.
    [camera tracks over to the vegetables] Ahh, green vegetables. Well, kale and other dark leafies contain a fair number of bitter compounds which tend to clash with the roasty, toasty goodness of bread, kind of like, well ... [shows a mismatched jacket and shirt] There you have it.
    I would argue that the best match here is definitely the cheddar cheese. After all, what could possibly be more satisfying than a grilled cheese sandwich, hmm? Now it would be tough to actually replace the bread in this equation with beer, but that doesn't mean we can't meld the beer and the bread and the cheese together. In fact, my very favorite thing to do with beer, other than the obvious, is to bake with it.


    [at the garage fridge] I am an unabashed beer lover. And at any given time my garage beer fridge is stocked to the gunnels with suds of many different styles and provenances.
    Now when it comes to baking, three specific models come to mind. For soups, fondues, and fish batters, I reach for a plain old lager whose bottom-fermenting yeast ensure a clean, crisp, straightforward beer flavor. Dark, spicy porters, on the other hand, are quite good in chocolate cakes and brownies which I occasionally serve to visiting children on Christmas Eve. [makes a snoring sound, implying that the alcohol makes the children drowsy]
    But for a particularly cheesy bread, I think that a pale ale with hoppy bitterness is the best way to go. And you're going to need three bottles, at least, maybe four. But we can always come back.

Hildegard, a 12th Century Benedictine nun, was the
first to mention the use of hops in brewing beer.

The Kitchen


    First step in our bread baking odyssey, crank the hot box to 375 degrees and face the software.

    We will combine eight ounces of all-purpose flour with four ounces of whole wheat flour. See, this is going to be healthy. One tablespoon of baking powder—not soda—one and a half teaspoons of kosher salt, one teaspoon of plain old sugar, one teaspoon of fresh chopped dill—powerful stuff, we don't need any more than thatand four and a half ounces, by weight, of grated sharp cheddar cheese. Then we are ready for the 12 ounces of beer. And oh, if you've got a funny little smiling cat bottle opener, that'll help. 8 Ounces All-Purpose Flour
4 Ounces Whole Wheat Flour
1 Tbs. Baking Powder
1½ tsp. Kosher Salt
1 tsp. Sugar
1 tsp. Fresh Dill, Chopped
4½ Ounces Sharp Cheddar
    Cheese, Grated
12 Ounces Beer, Ale Or Stout


    Yes, 12 ounces. I realize that's one beer. And I told you you would need at least 18 ounces. I made a mistake. [drinks from the other bottle] Sue me.
    Pour in the beer, and then bring the batter together as quickly as possible. And you'll want to use a spatula for this. Do not over mix it. As soon as it is thoroughly moistened, get yourself a 9" x 5" inch loaf pan, spray it down with some no-stick spray, and load her up.

    Sometimes, if I'm feeling especially hippy, I sprinkle on one to two tablespoons of sunflower seeds. 1 - 2 Tbs. Sunflower Seeds

    [at the oven] Bake for 45 minutes slap dab in the middle of the oven or until the internal temperature hits 210 degrees.
    [at the table] Upon exiting the oven, allow your bread to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then turn it out onto a cooling rack and allow it to cool another 10 so that the starches can thoroughly set. Then, you may slice and serve, along with the rest of the beer. [notes his beer is empty] Oh bother.

THING: [places another one on the table]
Ahh. Thank you, Thing!

    Delicious dishes, both. But, do they really sum up the full culinary capabilities of beer and wine? Of course not. We'll be spinning sequels off of this puppy for years to come. But there is one issue that I want to deal with right here and now. [takes out a remote control] Watch this.

Cooking Show #1

GUESTS: TV Chef #1 (Paula Deen character)

CHEF #1: And don't you worry about all that alcohol. You just cook it awhile it'll disappear in the breeze.

Cooking Show #2

GUESTS: TV Chef #2

CHEF #2: And in case you're worried about the alcohol, chill out dude. It'll evaporate. Totally.

Cooking Show #3

GUESTS: TV Chef #3

CHEF #3: And if you're worried about all that alcohol, get over it. It's going to vaporize.

Cooking Show #4

GUESTS: TV Chef #4 [Japanese character in period dress]

CHEF #4: [mumbles but indicates that the alcohol he's poring in will evaporate]

The Kitchen

GUESTS: USDA Agents #1, #2 & #3

    Let's look at the cold, hard facts. According to the United States Department of Agriculture:

USDA AGENT #1: The amount of ethyl alcohol that remains in food depends on when it is added and how long the food cooks. For instance, when added to a boiling liquid and simply removed from the heat, 85 percent of the alcohol remains in the final dish. If the alcohol is flamed, then 75 percent remains. Continued cooking results in significant reductions as you can clearly see from this chart. Fifteen minutes brings the alcohol down to 40 percent of the original dosage. By 2.5 hours, only five percent remains. But rest assured, no matter how long you cook it, some alcohol will remain.
Time/Process           Remaining
Immediate Consumption     100%
 Boil & Remove             85%
   Flamed                  75%
    15 Min.                40%
    30 Min.                35%
     1 Hour                25%
   2.5 Hours                5%

    But not very much. So unless you have a hard and fast reason for avoiding even minuscule amounts of alcohol, I wouldn't really worry about it.
    Well, I hope that we have piqued your interest in and appetite for a little wine and beer in your food. The possibilities are endless, delicious, and altogether good eats. See you next time.

Transcribed by Michael Roberts
Proofread by Michael Menninger

Hit Counter

Last Edited on 08/27/2010