Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Even More Flavor Infusion

In my last post I spoke about infusing flavors into beef by using stock to carry the flavors of other ingredients deep into the meat, thereby making it more tasty. I had also mentioned that stock works as a flavor carrier because of the collagen, and that it is better for pot roast than win because alcohol evaporates so quickly in heat.

But that does not mean that alcohol cannot be used in this way -- we simply have to make sure not to heat it up. But rather than using the alcohol to deliver the flavor to another ingredient, we will use it as the final destination. So if you are below drinking age, please avert your eyes....or at least promise not to do any of this until you are legal.

Start with a bottle of good (or at least decent) vodka. Vodka by itself has no flavor (unless "burn" counts as a flavor), but by soaking tasty things in it we can make a flavored vodka. And by adding sugar we are basically making a liqueur.

This liqueur is known as quarante-quatre, which is French for 44. Take an orange and make 44 holes in it with a paring knife. Into each slit insert a coffee bean. Place the orange into a mason jar, and add 44 sugar cubes. (Are you starting to get an idea about where the name comes from?)

Pour the vodka into the mason jar and put the top on. Shake, Now comes the fun part: waiting! How long? You guessed it: 44 days. Every day make sure to shake the jar so the flavors get mixed and the sugar gets dissolved. You don't need to completely agitate it; you don't want to damage the orange, since it will expose too much pith, and that can make it bitter.

After the 44 days are done, filter the vodka into a bottle. You'll need one a little larger than the original, since the orange will have given up some juice. (Be sure to squeeze out the orange too; unless you decide to eat the orange for a little afternoon buzz. Or morning buzz --whatever works!)

For more flavored vodka ideas, visit this forum thread I found on it.

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