You probably know sangria as a festive drink that includes red wine, orange juice, lemonade, ice and garnishes like fresh mint and fruit slices. It makes a refreshing summer drink for parties or just cooling off in the heat, and you can control the strength and overall taste with more or less wine. You can also use your sangria as an ingredient for cooking, in several different scenarios.
As a Glaze
Chicken breasts or chicken wings with a sangria-based glaze will impart a lot of flavor and just the right amount of stickiness if you include enough sugar. Add brown sugar or sweet marmalade to the standard sangria drink and then simmer it until it has reduced and thickened. Brush it on your chicken to coat when you have roughly 20 minutes of roasting time left, or after it comes out of the fryer, if you're making wings. After simmering, the alcohol level should no longer be a factor, but the taste will remain.
As a Sauce
Sangria also works as a part of a sauce you can use over pasta or rice, or even as a braising sauce for steaks or roasts. Pair the sangria with chopped tomato, green pepper and dried herbs like thyme and basil. Cook it down alone or add it in with the steaks after searing them on both sides. This kind of sauce works well with sirloin steaks or similar cuts that do better with moist heat cooking methods. As a braising liquid, cover the meat with the sauce and then cover the pot over low heat until the meat is cooked through. As a sauce for rice or pasta, let it simmer until it has thickened.
As a home cook, you don't have to stick to the rules. Experiment with the type of wine you use to make your sangria, the amounts and ratios and the types of fruit juices you use as an accompaniment. When you want to use the sangria as a sweet, sticky glaze or sauce, vary the ingredients you use as a sweetener. Try brown sugar one time, maple syrup the next time, jam the next and honey the next. Each one will give it a slightly different flavor.
If you enjoy the taste of sangria to the extent that you want to drink it and cook with it, make two batches to ensure food safety. It only takes one little mishap to get raw chicken or beef or shrimp juices in with the sangria; if someone ends up drinking it, the party could be over in a hurry. Make a couple of pitchers or jugs, and make each one a little different so you won't get confused.
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