Cooking with alcohol is a way to add pizzazz to foods and introduce out-of-the-ordinary flavor profiles. Chicken, with its mild flavor, is deliciously improved by the addition of many types of spirits. Using red or white wine, beer, liquor or liqueurs can enhance the taste of your chicken dish. Liquor-infused chicken can be baked, braised, pan fried or grilled with flavorful results.
Chicken and Brew
In northern France, chicken is cooked in rich dark beer to create a dish called coq a la biere. Cooking slightly browned chicken, onions, chopped vegetables, beer and broth together creates this luscious stew. Dark beer is used to give the dish a rich intensity, though a creamy wheat beer can also be used for a lighter dish. To infuse your chicken with beer and spices for grilling, add spices and herbs to a beer can filled with beer and then insert it into the cavity of the chicken. Slowly cook on a grill over indirect heat until the meat is moist and tender.
Braised in Wine
Coq au vin is a classic French stew featuring chicken and vegetables that have been slow cooked in red wine until tender. Using white wine instead creates a lighter, fresher version. Chicken still on the bone works well in this type of dish, as it tends to be more flavorful and holds up better when braising. Chicken cacciatore is another dish that is cooked in red wine. Braise chicken and chopped carrots, celery and onions in a can of chopped tomatoes, some broth and dry red wine. For a light tasty dish, cook chicken breasts and mushrooms in white wine with lemon and butter.
Cocktail Inspired Chicken
The flavors of bourbon and ginger create an Asian style chicken marinade. Mix together 2 parts of bourbon, freshly chopped ginger, soy sauce and fresh lime juice. Let the chicken sit overnight in the refrigerator and then grill to perfection. Combine tequila, orange juice, lime juice, ground cumin, chili powder, salt and finely chopped garlic. Add chicken to the mixture and marinade for 6 hours or more before grilling. Chicken wings get an updated twist when cooked in a mixture similar to a lemon drop martini. Mix together 2 parts vodka with 1 part fresh lemon juice. Add in a few teaspoons of sugar, a sprinkling of salt and a dash of olive oil. Let wings marinate for up to four hours and then bake until tender, about one hour.
Amaretto, a liqueur distilled from almonds or the pits of apricots makes a delicious base for a velvety chicken sauce. Pan fry pieces of sliced chicken over medium heat until slightly browned. Add sliced onions, mushrooms, butter and a few tablespoons of amaretto. Saute until chicken is cooked through. Create a flavorful stew by combining chicken, fennel, tomatoes, potatoes, onions and carrots with broth and Pernod. This liqueur adds a distinctive licorice flavor to this hearty chicken dish.
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Candi Canncel is a writer covering food and drinks, travel and lifestyle. Her work has appeared on Food and Wine Travel, Craft Gossip, Belltown Local and other publications. She also teaches cooking classes and hosts food/wine seminars.