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Alcohol Does Not Cook Off

Imagine preparing Boeuf Bourguignon or Grasshopper Pie without wine or liquor.
> Most chefs would shudder.
> Many gourmet cooks think that wine and spirits add essential flavor to
> dishes and that the alcohol evaporates in the cooking process.
> Not true, according to researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
> After testing six recipes, including main dishes and desserts,
> government nutritionists found that significant percentages of alcohol
> and wine poured into hot and cold dishes remain even after cooking.
> Although the overall alcohol content of the recipes tested by the
> government remains small, the new finding may serve as a warning for
> people who want to bar any alcohol from their diet.
> “It was assumed until now that everything would be gone after cooking,”
> said Jorg Augustin, professor of food science and biochemistry at the
> University of Idaho, who prepared and tested the recipes selected by
> the USDA.
> “We hadn’t given it much thought before – but we found that the retentions
> varied quite a bit,” he said.
> Recipes that required less cooking time retained the highest percentage of
> alcohol.
> A Brandy Alexander pie, made with 3 tablespoons of Brandy and 1/4 cup
> of Creme de Cacao, retained 85% of the alcohol. Cherries jubilee, made
> with 1/4 cup of Brandy and flamed for 48 seconds, retained 75%.
> Main dishes such as scalloped oysters, prepared with 1/4 cup dry Sherry
> poured on top of the casserole and baked for 25 minutes, retained 45%.
> A chicken dish prepared with 1/2 cup of Burgundy stirred in and then
> simmered for 15 minutes retained 40%. A Pot Roast, prepared with one
> cup of burgundy and then roasted for 2 1/2 hours, retained only 5%.
> Rena Cutrufelli, a USDA nutritionist, said that the agency will review
> its recipe files to adjust for the finding. The agency has not issued
> any recommendations based on these preliminary findings for people
> concerned with alcohol intake, such as recovering alcoholics or
> pregnant women, she said.
> “We were just trying to prove or disprove the assumption that no alcohol exists
> (after cooking).”
> Cutrufelli said, “I don’t think for this small a picture you can say what
> affects people.”
> A spokeswoman for the Washington-based American College of
> Obstetricians and Gynecologists said the group has not responded to the
> study. “We don’t really know how much alcohol is enough to cause
> problems,” said Kate Ruddon. “But we do know it can cause fetal alcohol
> syndrome and other problems, we just recommend that women avoid it.”
> The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence also recommends
> that recovering alcoholics avoid foods cooked with wine or liquor. The
> taste alone could spark a desire to drink again.
> “It depends on the individual,” said Jeffery Hon, a spokesman for the
> New York-based council. “It may be more risky for some individuals, and
> it also depends on how much is used in the dish.”

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