VinegarTips. All opinions are my own.
You’re heard of the five French Mother Sauces, right? Béchamel, Velouté, Espagnole, Sauce Tomat, and Hollandaise are the five sauces. It's said that every cook should have these in their culinary wheelhouse. Once you know how to make them, you can customize them for your dishes. Years ago I took a sauce class and I can honestly say that I use variations of all of them. All the time.
Well, I feel the same way about vinegars. You need to have a variety of them at the ready for creating delicious dishes in your kitchen.
Also, by "a variety of vinegars" I do not mean balsamic vinegar with all the fancy infusions you can find these days. Don't get me wrong: I have bottles of fig balsamic, lemongrass white balsamic, and many, many more in my cabinets, too. But, in this post, I am going to share with you what I believe are the five essential vinegars for every pantry. And I'll share a couple of my favorite recipes that highlight vinegar.
Ready? These are listed in alphabetical order, not in order of utility or preference.
Apple Cider Vinegar is my go-to for pickling or anything in which I want to add a little sweet-tart flavor. Many pickle recipes call for white vinegar to preserve the color of lighter fruits and vegetables such as white turnips or cauliflower. However, I prefer apple cider vinegar because it’s more flavorful.
This quick salad also boasts turmeric which adds fantastic color and flavor.
Zesty Turmeric Slaw
made with Apple Cider Vinegar
Ingredients makes 4 to 6 servings
- 4 C thinly sliced cabbage (I use a mixture of green with a tad of purple)
- ¼ C carrots, julienned
- 1 to 2 T raw honey
- ½ C apple cider vinegar
- ¾ C olive oil
- 1 t zest from 1 organic lemon
- 1 t freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 t celery seeds
- ½ t sea salt
- ¼ t ground turmeric
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Place vinegar, oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, celery seeds, sea salt, and turmeric in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Whisk in the honey until dissolved and smooth. Set aside to cool.
Place the sliced cabbage and julienned carrots in a large mixing bowl. When the dressing is cool, drizzle over the cabbage and toss to coat. Let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving. If desired, crack fresh black pepper over the top.
Balsamic Vinegar originated in Italy, having been produced in Modena and Reggio Emilia since the Medieval times. I use this as a finishing vinegar to drizzle on grilled meats or over roasted vegetables. You can also reduce it into a rich, exquisite syrup to drizzle over a dessert. But one of my boys' favorite ways to use balsamic vinegar: to make a homemade soda. Years ago, on a food tour in Santa Cruz, we learned this little gem; we've been enjoying it ever since.
Balsamic Vinegar Soda
Ingredients makes 1
- 1 to 3 T balsamic vinegar, depending on taste
- 1 C sparkling water
Place balsamic vinegar in the bottom of a glass. Top with sparkling water. Adjust to taste, adding more balsamic vinegar if you prefer it stronger. Drink immediately.
Malt Vinegar is made from malted barley that’s been brewed into ale and then fermented to make vinegar. It’s usually a lovely caramel color and I love to add it to homemade chutneys.
Rice Vinegar is a key ingredient for Asian cooking and adds a milder, sweeter tang than other vinegars.
Wine Vinegar(s) by which I mean ‘Red Wine Vinegar’ and ‘White Wine Vinegar’ are simply fermented wines. Next to apple cider vinegar, these are my most versatile vinegars. I use them in salad dressings and marinades. My rule of thumb: whatever wine you’re uncorking for dinner, you can use its vinegar equivalent in the dinner.
Flank Steak with Caramelized Onions
in a Red Wine Vinegar Glaze
Ingredients makes 4 to 6 servings
- 1 flank steak, between 2 and 3 pounds
- 1 T organic brown sugar
- 1 T paprika
- 1 t smoked paprika
- 1 t freshly ground salt
- 1/2 t ground cumin
- 1/2 t ground coriander
- olive oil
- 1 ½ C red wine vinegar
- 1 to 2 T raw honey
- 1 T olive oil
- 3 to 4 C thinly sliced onions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place the flank steak on a parchment-lined baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, paprikas, salt, cumin, and coriander. Sprinkle the spices over the flank steak and rub it in. Drizzle with olive oil. Then roast in the preheated oven for between 25 and 40 minutes, depending on desired level of doneness.
Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes before slicing and serving. While the flank steak roasts and rest, prepare your onions and glaze.
To caramelize your onions, place them in a large, flat-bottom pan with 1 T olive oil. Toss the onions to coat completely. Cook over low to medium heat until the onions soften, turn translucent, and caramelize. You can caramelize to your desired color. I usually let them turn a deep caramel hue with a few streaks of darker coffee strands.
To make the glaze: pour red wine vinegar into a medium saucepan. Stir in the raw honey and heat slowly. Whisk the honey until dissolved and smooth. Turn the heat up so that the vinegar-honey mixture comes to a boil. Cook until the vinegar is reduced by about a half. Set aside until ready to use. If it has thickened too much to pour over the meat, heat it gently again.
To serve: place slices of flank steak on individual serving plates. Heap caramelized onions on top of the meat. Drizzle the glaze over the top. Serve immediately.
Do you agree? What is your most used vinegar in your pantry? I’d love to hear.