November 22, 2019
If you’re tasked with making a dish for a holiday potluck, you might be wondering if you should bring the same old tired spinach dip. This year, take some inspiration from the festive season and try out some new recipes that use wine, spirits or beer to take the dish to the next level. Just like salt, alcoholic drinks like beer, wine and even spirits can enhance the flavour of food. A splash of the right wine at the right time can add a unique flavour to a meal, and it can be used to bring out the best aromas in many recipes, from risotto and pasta to burgers, and desserts.
Cooking with Wine
Red wine can take your meat or vegetable stew (a great potluck dish) to another level, where white wines are great for sauces, risottos, seafood, and white meats.
Try making famous French beef bourguignon in dark red wine sauce (we like Michael David Petite Syrah) and serve it with some buttery garlic mushrooms. This is always a crowd pleaser at potluck gatherings.
Alternatively, make our Skillet Turkey in White Wine Sauce, and serve it with roasted potatoes, since turkey shouldn’t just be a Christmas day meal! A side of Lindmans Bin 45 Cabernet Thyme Cabernet Gravy is also a side that will stand out from the ordinary on the holiday table.
Have you ever tried adding a splash of red wine or sherry to French onion soup broth before you add the cheesy top layer? It’s worth it! The liquor compliments the caramelized onions and beef stock perfectly to make this luxurious, classic, and delicious French dish. If you’re having a potluck with a small group, making little individual French onion soups will have guests talking about your contribution until the snow melts.
When it comes to dessert, poached pears in red wine make a nice, cozy, holiday dessert for winter days and it’s easy to make for a group, then keep warm at the potluck. Adding plenty of spice makes it fragrant and the creaminess of a side of Fiasco Gelato Vanilla Gelato with it is an undeniable holiday winner. Check out the recipe for Dark Chocolate Mulled Wine Sauce for a holiday treat you can make for the family, or prepare in jars and bring as a hostess gift—and poured over that gelato: YUM!
If you want to make something special and go for a frozen dessert option, white wine granita is a fun and unusual treat. This frozen mixture of water, wine and fruit only gets slushy, not fully frozen, so it has a smoother texture, making it a nice dessert after a heavy meal—or serve it as a palate cleanser between courses.
Cooking with Beer
Just like wine, beer is used widely in the kitchen. Not only does it give a distinctive rich and malty flavour to a dish, but it also helps tenderize meat, making it a perfect ingredient for a marinade. Beer adds sweet, nutty tones to your meals, especially soups and stews, both of which are perfect for serving groups during the holidays.
Roasting meats? Try adding some beer like Stella Artois to the gravy when you make it for added richness and depth.
You can add a splash of beer (try the millennial favourite Pabst Blue Ribbon) to roasted vegetables, for a potluck dish the vegetarians will be wowed by.
And of course there are also dessert options made with beer, like these Beer Brownies.
Cooking with Spirits
Cooking with alcohol is not limited only to beer and wine. In fact, spirits are used for both savory and sweet dishes.
Vodka enhances tomato flavour in pasta sauces and gives it velvety texture. We’ve got a tried and tested recipe for Penne with Alberta Pure Vodka Sauce that will knock your potluck crowd’s socks off.
Did you know traditional Swiss Three Cheese Fondue also uses liquor? Kirsch is typically added to fondue to create a beautiful depth and creaminess.
Rum and chocolate are a great combination, and adding a splash of rum will give a sweet-smoky undertone to a chocolate cake. And of course let’s not forget about straight-up rum cake and its tangy sweetness. Rum’s natural caramel flavour goes perfectly with both baked desserts, or pour a splash over fruit and ice cream. Co-op’s Rum Fruitcake recipe is made with Captain Morgan Spiced Rum for extra festive flavour.
Is Whisky more your style? Check out our recipe for Whisky Pecan Cheesecake this season. Bringing one of these two desserts to a potluck will ensure you’re not carting home leftovers, however, so be warned!
Want to go way back with a boozy retro dessert? A little Peppermint Schnapps poured over chocolate or vanilla ice cream was a popular treat in the mid-century modern era and is still just as tasty today.
A little Tia Maria coffee liqueur is beautiful added to coffee or splashed into homemade truffle mixture or even into store-bought chocolate sauce.
Whichever kind of dish you want to make for your holiday potlucks, know that you’ve got a wealth of options, and recipes, and all the holiday help you need from your local Co-op.
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