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Here's How You Should Cook With Vinegar, According to a Chef

Here's How You Should Cook With Vinegar, According to a Chef



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You know all about ACV and the distilled white stuff, but there’s a world beyond those vinegars that can kick up any dish. Follow these five simple rules to make your dishes sing—not burn.

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For the past few years, apple cider vinegar has stolen the spotlight, albeit more for health reasons than culinary ones. In all the uproar about whether ACV is a miracle elixir that can melt fat and beautify skin, its acidic cousins have gotten pushed to the back of the pantry.

Big mistake. Huge.

Eating healthy should still be delicious.

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Few ingredients have the versatility, range, and potency of vinegar when it comes to cooking. No one know this better than Rich Landau, chef and co-owner of Vedge restaurant in Philadelphia. Working with a meat-free menu forces him to get creative with flavors, and vinegar is one of his favorite tools for the job. We asked for his golden rules and favorites.

1. Don’t buy cheap vinegar.

“If you’re buying anything over 16 ounces that costs under $5, use it to clean your windows, not on food,” Landau says. That doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune, either—he’s noticed diminishing returns on bottles $25 and up. Something in the mid range is good (try: Antica Italia Aged Balsamic Vinegar, $15, Amazon).

2. Use it sparingly.

One way to justify spending a little more on vinegar is that a little goes a long way. “Most people overuse it, which makes a dish painfully acidic, and then have to balance that with more fat and sugar,” Landau says. He prefers to think of vinegar like salt—small amounts get big results. Even in salad dressings, his rule of thumb is four parts oil to one part vinegar.

3. Match the vinegar to the dish.

You can substitute within reason. Most of the time, using what you have on hand won’t kill a dish, but for optimal culinary impact, certain vinegars work best with certain flavors. His starter kit for home chefs includes a basic white vinegar for pickling, rice vinegar for all Asian foods, an aged balsamic for finishing dishes, and his favorite, sherry vinegar, which he claims makes flavor pop more than any other ingredient. “It takes on an umami quality, and really fills your palate when you’re eating it.”

4. Think outside the salad bowl.

Yes, vinegar is an essential ingredient in homemade dressings, but it has a similar effect on any kind of vegetable. Landau likes to douse roasted or grilled veg—anything that doesn’t have a high water content—in a splash of vinegar while still warm, which he says infuses the flavor all the way through. Sherry vinegar is the secret ingredient in a number of the restaurant’s sauces, even for desserts, because it balances them nicely. Kate Jacoby, Vedge’s co-owner, also uses vinegars to make syrups for shrubs and nonalcoholic drinks.

5. Replace them regularly.

People tend not to think of vinegar, which is aged to begin with, as having an expiration date, but like spices and dried herbs, they tend to lose their oomph after about six months. But that just gives you a chance to experiment with new varieties. Some more to check out: golden balsamic, which has a lighter, sweeter tang than the dark stuff, and black vinegar, a Hong Kong condiment that is enhanced with dried fruit and has an almost sweet and sour effect.


How to Cook Sweet Potato for Dogs

Sweet potatoes are healthy, tasty, and oh so nutritious! If you are looking for a way to make your dog’s diet delicious while keeping it clean, sweet potatoes will make your dreams come true. These underground tubers have plenty of fiber that can go a long way in supporting a dog’s healthy gut. They are often used to alleviate things like diarrhea and constipation and encourage healthy bowel movements. The vegetables are also low in fat while packing on essential vitamins such as B6, A, and C.

The best part about sweet potatoes is that you can prepare it in a number of ways for your lovely pup. If it is your first time to prepare sweet potatoes for your pup and you are looking for some inspiration, this guide will come in handy.

Are sweet potatoes dog-friendly?

In case you are wondering whether sweet potatoes are good for your dog, the plain answer is yes they are! According to the AKC website, these tubers are safe for dogs. Since they are whole, they don’t cause an immune response in a dog’s body or cause damage to his GI tract. However, if your dog is diabetic, less active, or overweight, you need to exercise a little more caution. This is because they have a high glycemic index.

Like with all other things in life, exercise moderation when it comes to feeding sweet potatoes to your dog. Give according to the size of your dog, his activity level, and his health condition. Also, if you can, remove the skin to make it easy for your dog to digest it. Finally, never feed him a raw potato or one that is extremely dry and hard as it is difficult to chew.

How to Cook Sweet Potato for Dogs

There are a number of ways to prepare sweet potatoes for your dogs. You can bake, mash, boil, and steam them. If you want to take things to a new level, feel free to make cookies off of your sweet potatoes or mix them up with liver or pork. To get you started, here are two of our absolute sweet potato recipes for dogs.

1. Delightful Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Most dogs enjoy sinking their teeth into a bowl of mashed potato goodness! It is savory and creamy, making it a good treat for your four-legged friend. If you’ve made a mashed potato dish for your family before, you know how easy it is to whip it up. Well, making this healthy veggie for a dog is even easier. This is because most of the ingredients such as butter, brown sugar, heavy cream, nutmeg, and salt are not included in the recipe.

Most of these condiments are not dog-friendly not to mention necessary. Don’t get it twisted though, even without these flavor enhancers, the mash will taste delightful. The reason is simple: the food is already sweet in nature. Let’s get into this tasty sweet potato for dogs recipe.

What You’ll Need

  • Two medium-sized potatoes
  • A bowl
  • Water
  • Pan
  • Potato masher
  • Knife
  • Potato peeler
  • Strainer
  • Wash and peel your sweet potatoes. For optimal results, soak them first in vinegar before washing them thoroughly. This step helps to draw the dirt out more than water alone will do. Use a potato peeler or a knife to peel the potatoes. Once peeled, give them one more wash and slice them into cubes.
  • Boil the cubed sweet potatoes. The best way to do this is to bring some water to a boil in a pot. As a rule of thumb, the water should cover the potatoes entirely. Once it boils, throw in the potatoes, reduce the heat to medium and let them simmer away for 30 minutes. To know if they are ready, pierce into one cube with a fork or knife. If it goes through with ease, the potatoes are done. Else, cover the pot and give it a few minutes for them to be fork-tender.
  • Mash them up: The final step is to mash the sweet potatoes. Before doing this, drain off the water in the pot using a strainer. Then proceed to mash it up using a potato masher. This is the fun part. Be sure to work the mash until you get a smooth consistency. Let the potatoes cool before serving it to your pup.
  • Serve: that’s it! The mashed potatoes are ready to be served. You can offer it to your dog as is or mix it in his food. Ideally, the amount to give depends on the size of your dog. If you have a toy breed, you might want to serve only a tablespoon of the mash. Otherwise, you can serve as much as 1/4 th a cup for giant breeds.

2. Yummy Homemade Sweet Potato Treats

Homemade sweet potato treats are easy to make and only require one ingredient sweet potatoes! They are also incredibly easy to prepare. Here’s a great recipe to follow for great sweet potato treats.

What You’ll Need

  • Two medium-sized potatoes (or whichever amount you please)
  • Knife
  • Potato peeler
  • Baking tray
  • Wash and peel the potatoes: Begin by thoroughly washing your veggies. If you can, soak them up in vinegar for a while then rinse them up to get all the dirt out. You can also go ahead and scrub them up using a kitchen brush to really make them completely clean. Then proceed to peel the up using your potato peeler or knife.
  • Slice the potatoes: The next agenda on your list is to slice the sweet potatoes. This time around, you don’t want cubes but rather, thin slices that can become chewy or crunchy when baked. You have two options here: slice them longitudinally about 1/8 – ¼ inches thick. The thinner the slice, the crunchier the treat and the thicker it is, the chewier the treat. Secondly, you can cut lengthwise, about the same measurements.
  • Bake the potatoes: Place the slices on a baking sheet and spread them out in one layer. One big sweet potato (or two medium ones) will cover one baking sheet. If you have more, you might need more baking trays. Do not add salt, oil, or any spice. The treats need to be as natural as possible. Once ready, throw the baking tray in a 200-2500F oven for three hours. You might want to check on them after one and a half hours. Flip them up to make them evenly cooked. The time frame depends on the thickness of your slices and the end result you are looking to achieve. More time in the oven makes them crunchier. If you only want them to be chewy, don’t let them sit for more than three hours. Ideally, a chewy hydrated treat is great compared to a dry crunchy one.
  • Serve: Once ready, let the potatoes sit in the oven until cooled. Serve them to your pup and see him go bonkers over them. Keep the remaining in an airtight container.These treats can last anywhere from five days to three weeks depending on whether they are chewy or crunchy. As you might have guessed, the latter tends to last longer than the former.

Sweet potatoes are as good to dogs as they are to humans. They have plenty of essential vitamins, are rich in fiber, and most importantly, harmless to a dog. Hopefully, you now know how to cook sweet potatoes for dogs. The secret is to keep the recipe simple, chewy, and delicious!


1. Char-Grilling

It's basically exactly what it sounds like: grilling vegetables until they're charred to a crisp. Don't worry, you're not meant to eat a mouthful of burnt veggie peels — the idea is to remove the charred bits to uncover a unique, layered flavor below.

"This is an amazing way to get a rich, slightly smokey, delicate flavor out of a variety of vegetables," Mullen says.

Nutritionally speaking, charred foods aren't flawless. "Certain charred foods can contain carcinogens, but the amount and type vary depending on the composition of the food," says Kristy Del Coro, RD, a Maine-based dietitian who specializes in culinary nutrition.

"For example, char-grilled meats can form [harmful compounds] like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs), from the interaction between the proteins in the meat and high heat," Del Coro explains. "Non-starchy vegetables such as zucchini, peppers, asparagus, and mushrooms don't form the HCAs that are associated with increased cancer risk, but will have some amount of PAHs, especially if they also contain a lot of extra fat."

Don’t get too freaked out by the concerns around grilled foods, especially when charring vegetables instead of meat. “Scraping off the charred parts will help reduce the PAHs since they tend to stick to the outside of the food,” Del Coro says. “Plus, vegetables’ naturally high antioxidant content can also potentially counteract the harmful effects from the PAHs.”

How to Do It

There are three different ways to make char-grilled veggies, according to Mullen. Here's how to do each, depending on the equipment you have on hand.

Direct Grilling Method

  1. Heat the grill on a high setting.
  2. Prep vegetables by drizzling them with olive oil and seasoning with salt and pepper. "Even though you'll peel the outside of the vegetable, these flavors will carry through," Mullen says.
  3. Place the vegetables on the grill and lower the heat to prevent them from burning too quickly.
  4. Turn the vegetables frequently to ensure an even char.
  5. Once the vegetables are tender and the exterior is evenly charred, remove them from the grill and allow them to cool in a plastic container or a paper bag. "Cooling the vegetables in an enclosed container helps them start to steam," Mullen explains.
  6. Once cooled, carefully peel and discard the blackened exterior, then re-season the vegetables with salt and pepper.

"Once done, the interior of the vegetable will be bright, sweet and have a nearly 'melted' consistency," Mullen says. He recommends seasoning peeled veggies with salt and pepper, vinegar, spices, fresh herbs, yogurt or your favorite sauce to complete the dish.

Coal Method

  1. Bury vegetables directly in the coals of a burning wood fire. (You can wrap them in aluminum foil or place them directly into the coals.)
  2. Use a meat fork or cake tester to pull the vegetables out periodically and check their char and tenderness. The veggies are done when the interior is soft and the exterior is fully charred.
  3. Remove the vegetables from the coals, let them cool and then peel them with a paring knife to completely remove the charred outside.

How long the vegetables need to cook for depends on the type you're using. "For example, a baseball-sized beet might take about an hour," Mullen says. "In the end, you'll be left with a sweet, smokey delicious root vegetable that can be mashed, dressed or simply seasoned."

Oven Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 495 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Rub vegetables with extra-virgin olive oil to help conduct heat.
  3. Roast vegetables in the high heat, turning them periodically to make sure they char evenly. Vegetables like whole bell peppers will take about 25 to 30 minutes to char, Mullen says.
  4. Once charred, remove the vegetables from the oven and let them cool in an enclosed container.
  5. When cooled, peel off the burnt vegetable skin. "Avoid cleaning the charred vegetables under running water," Mullen says. "All of the nice oils that the vegetable exudes will get washed away and you'll lose flavor."

“With each of these approaches, the final product — after cooling and peeling — will need to be seasoned and then reheated if you choose to serve it warm,” Mullen explains. “A dollop of good yogurt, a shot of excellent extra-virgin olive oil, some crunchy sea salt and fresh herbs will go a long way to making any of these vegetables sing.”

Which Veggies Work Best

"​The [direct grilling] method works well with eggplant, leeks and onions," Mullen says. "Burying the vegetables directly in the coals of a wood fire is great for harder root vegetables like yams, celery root, beets and parsnips." Mullen recommends charring celery root in coals, then peeling it and using a potato masher to produce a delicious root mash.

If you're using a regular oven at home, Mullen recommends charring red bell peppers. Once they're cooked, cooled and peeled, you can use them to make tasty condiments like a Spanish romesco sauce.

"For romesco sauce, the peppers are roasted together with onion, garlic and tomato, then pureed into a rustic, chunky puree with toasted almonds, hazelnuts, paprika, olive oil and sherry vinegar," he says. Pair it with grilled veggies, fish or meat for a flavor-packed bite.


While this dish is a classic Hong Kong speciality found in Chinese restaurants and zi char stalls, you can easily recreate this at home for your next family meal. Group executive chef Martin Foo uses prawns as the main ingredient, but he suggests customising it to your liking by adding a different vegetable like wong bok, throwing in thinly-sliced pork, or even changing the hor fun to bee hoon.

INGREDIENTS

180g flat rice noodles (hor fun)
20g onions, sliced thinly
20g beansprout
5 sea prawns, approx. 110g, shelled and marinated with pinch of salt and potato starch
75g squid, sliced into rings
40g Hong Kong Choy Sum 1 knob carrot, thinly sliced 1 red chili, thinly sliced
1 egg, beaten
5g spring onions Cooking oil for frying

Seasoning for hor fun
1/2 tablespoon dark soya sauce 3/4 tablespoon light soya sauce
Gravy Seasoning (to taste, according to preference)
Salt
Sugar
Chicken extract powder Pepper
For Prawn Broth:
1 thumb-sized knob of ginger, sliced 500ml boiling water
For potato starch slurry:
2tbsp potato starch
2 tbsp water
*Remarks: Mix both well together and set aside for use.

METHOD

To make prawn broth
1. Add oil to a pot over high heat and stir-fry prawn head and shells with ginger till fragrant, about 4-5
minutes.
2. Add boiling water and simmer stock over low heat for about 15-18 mins until it is reduced to about
350ml.
3. Set aside for use later.

Instructions
1. Add oil into frying pan and stir fry onions and beansprouts over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes.
2. Add hor fun and stir fry over high heat until hor fun is slightly charred and imbued with wok hei.
3. Add dark soya sauce and light soya sauce and toss to coat strands evenly.
4. Remove hor fun from pan and place on serving plate.
5. Add prawns, squid, choy sum, carrot, red chili and gravy seasoning to the reduced prawn stock.
6. Once stock comes to a boil, add potato starch slurry while stirring gently in a clockwise direction
gently, until stock thickens to a smooth gravy.
7. Remove the pot from the heat, add beaten egg and spring onion. Stir gently to mix.
8. Pour gravy over hor fun and serve.


  • ¾ cup fruit preserves, such as blackberry or peach, pureed
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ¼ cup white-wine or cider vinegar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce (see Tip)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice, divided
  • 1 ½ pounds skin-on salmon fillet
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cups packed arugula
  • 1 cup thinly sliced radishes
  • ¼ cup fresh mint or chervil leaves, torn
  • Lemon wedges for garnish

Combine pureed preserves, water, jalapeño and garlic in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, 10 to 15 minutes. Add vinegar and tamari (or soy sauce) and cook until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 4 to 8 minutes more. Remove from heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon (or lime) juice.

Meanwhile, preheat grill to medium-high or broiler to high. Brush salmon with oil and sprinkle with salt.

Oil the grill rack or place the salmon on a rimmed baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Grill or broil the salmon, skin-side down, until it flakes easily with a fork, 10 to 15 minutes, depending on thickness. Using 2 large spatulas, carefully transfer the salmon to a platter. Top with the warm glaze.

Toss arugula, radishes, mint (or chervil) and the remaining 1 tablespoon lemon (or lime) juice in a medium bowl. Serve the salmon with the salad and garnished with lemon wedges and more jalapeño slices, if desired.

To make ahead: Refrigerate glaze (Step 1) for up to 4 days reheat before continuing.

Tip: People with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should use soy sauces that are labeled "gluten-free," as soy sauce may contain wheat or other gluten-containing ingredients.


4 /5 Pan-fried prawns in soy sauce

To create a delicious dish, master chef Lap Fai recommends buying fresh prawns (without black spots) and using Hua Ting's special homemade XO chilli sauce to complement the dish.

INGREDIENTS

300g prawns
10g raw green onions
5g ginger
Oil

Seasoning
1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp light soy sauce
2 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp Hua Ting XO chilli sauce
Chinese "Shaoxing" wine
Pepper (to taste)
Sesame Oil (to taste)

METHOD

1. Prepare the prawns by removing the whiskers and intestines.
2. Prepare raw shallots and dice ginger.
3. Heat the pan with oil and pan-fry prawn till 80 per cent well-dine.
4. Sautée raw shallots and diced ginger, then add pan-fried prawns to the pan
5. Add all seasonings and cook dish evenly top off with Hua Ting XO chilli sauce and serve.


Brined Pork Chops with Grilled Pineapple

These brined pork chops are juicy and tender because of the brine they sit in for 1 to 6 hours before being grilled. The spice rub gives them a great flavor and the grilled pineapple makes them a perfect summer dish.

Why Brine Pork Chops?

Before preparing your Grilled Brined Pork Chops, lets talk about why it’s a good idea to bring them first. Brining is a perfect way to infuse seasoning and flavor into pork while also ensuring that the meat remains moist. It works similarly to a marinade and uses the rule of osmosis to allow flavors to penetrate the meat, rather than just seasoning the outside surface. Basically you allow the meat to sit in a very salty solution for a period of time – allowing it to marinate.

The dictionary definition of osmosis is “the movement of water or other solvent through a plasma membrane from a region of low solute concentration to a region of high solute concentration.” This means that if the water outside the meat is higher in sodium than the water in the meat, moisture will be drawn out of the meat in order to dilute the exterior solution. Then, at some point the water in the meat will be higher in sodium than the solution the meat is sitting in and the reverse will happen. Water will start to be drawn into the meat, along with all the flavors that you’ve put into your brine. (If you’re not a science-lover, or just don’t care why brining works, ignore that paragraph except for the first sentence!)

How Long to Brine Pork Chops

The pork chops should sit in the brine for 1 to 6 hours in the refrigerator. You do not need to soak them overnight in the brine, six hours is enough time to help break down some of the muscle tissue and draw moisture into the meat. Longer than six hours could result in the pork chops being too salty.

Seasoning Brined Pork Chops

The important thing to remember when you do brine meats, is that you rinse the brine off after it has marinated, dry it well and do NOT season the meat again with salt. In this recipe, we rub a spice blend on the pork instead that does not contain salt. The pork chops can sit out for about an hour or so to come to room temperature before you grill. This will allow the chops to cook faster on the grill and it gives you the necessary time to get the grill ready, especially if you are cooking on a charcoal grill like I do.

How Long to Grill Pork Chops

The time it takes to cook the to cook the chops depends entirely on how thick they are. Chops that are roughly 1-inch thick with the bone still in will take about 5 minutes per side, give or take a minute. You can mark your chops with cross-hatch marks on the grill if you choose to, but it’s not necessary. A single set of grill marks is just fine.

Internal Temperature of Pork Chops

When you check the internal temperature of the chops with an instant read thermometer – the temperature should be 150ºF. You will know they are cooked through if they feel firm to the touch, but still have a little give. The next step is critical – the pork chops must rest. Remove them to a plate and cover them loosely with foil while you grill the pineapple.

How to Grill Pineapple

Grilling pineapple is very easy – you just have to cut it to create a flat surface. That means you could slice the pineapple into rings or half moons, or you could cut long wedges of pineapple. Either way, you can opt to leave the hard peel on or take it off. (You can read about how to cut a pineapple here.) The important thing to remember is to brush the pineapple pieces with a little fat and sugar. This recipe calls for a maple syrup mixture that flavors the pineapple perfectly. The pineapple should only take about 5 minutes, which is just about the right time for the chops to rest. All you have left to do is serve everything to your guests.

Fruit and Pork Chops

Pairing pork chops with fruit on the grill gives you a great flavor profile and the fruit and pork compliment each other nicely. Another great recipe made with ripe summer peaches, are Grilled Pork Chops with Peach BBQ Sauce. Of course on a rainy day or when it is too cold to grill, my go to pork chop recipe is my Easy Glazed Pork Chops.


Chefs make their own vinegar from leftover wine

2 of 9 Gold & Red Beet "Carpaccio" with Macerated Shallots & Ricotta Salata (Gilbert Pilgram from Zuni) as seen in San Francisco, California on Wednesday, February 15, 2012. Food styled by Sunny Liu. Craig Lee/Special to The Chronicle Show More Show Less

4 of 9 Sardines pickled in homemade red wine vinegar (Russell Moore, Camino) as seen in San Francisco, California on Wednesday, February 15, 2012. Food styled by Sunny Liu. Craig Lee/Special to The Chronicle Show More Show Less

5 of 9 Butter lettuce salad with homemade red wine vinegar & herbs (Russell Moore, Camino) as seen in San Francisco, California on Wednesday, February 15, 2012. Food styled by Sunny Liu. Craig Lee/Special to The Chronicle Show More Show Less

7 of 9 Sweet Spiced Gastrique (from Mark Gordon, Terzo, Rose Pistola) as seen in San Francisco, California on Wednesday, February 8, 2012. Food styled by Sunny Liu. Craig Lee/Special to The Chronicle Show More Show Less

8 of 9 Vinegar wine barrel with wine being poured in as seen in San Francisco, California on Wednesday, February 8, 2012. Styled by Erick Wong. Craig Lee/Special to The Chronicle Show More Show Less

Nearly every week, a professional panel tastes dozens of wines in The Chronicle's Food & Wine department conference room. When the tannin settles, the panel has helped select the ones we feature each week. There is also a bunch of leftover wine.

Mind you, we aren't complaining, but there is only so much you can cook with. So we decided to make our own vinegar.

For guidance, we turned to a few chefs who are making their own red wine vinegar. Russell Moore, chef-owner of Camino in Oakland, has been doing so for more than two decades. He and a friend were both cooks at Chez Panisse when they bought a small barrel as a lark, began saving odds and ends of wine, and started making vinegar.

Moore has a decades-old bottle from one of the first batches he made, which smells a bit oaky and is reminiscent of old Bordeaux. Since then, he has gone through countless batches. He bought a 15-gallon American oak barrel when he opened Camino in 2008 and recently added a smaller barrel.

"I was making everything else, so why not make that?" he says. "I found early on that my red wine vinegar is better than anything you can buy."

Moore has three cases - bottled in November - that are ready to use, and he is ready to bottle again. Camino's kitchen goes through a bottle every day or so because it is the only vinegar used there for salads and cooking. There are no written recipes at the restaurant, so when making vinaigrette the cooks need to keep tasting with a leaf of greens and keep adjusting.

"You have to make this salad work by having exactly the right balance and the right seasoning," Moore explains. "Not 'This is a little bitter, so I'll add something sweet.' It's tricky for people."

To make Camino's vinegar, the staff combines all the drinkable leftover wine (never adding any corked or flawed wine), corks the bottles when they are full, then sets them aside for the next batch of vinegar. Everything is saved not a drop is wasted.

Moore makes his vinegar in a batch process. If the batch has some young, fruity wine in it, he thinks it enlivens the final product.

The finished vinegar is siphoned off, bottled, closed with a cork and stored. The barrel is then refilled with the saved wine. Live vinegar, or vinegar culture, contains the acetobacter bacteria, which converts alcohol to acetic acid and produces the "mother" - a gelatinous-looking veil of cellulose that eventually forms on the surface of the wine-vinegar mixture. Once the mother is active, it will continue to convert wine into vinegar if the conditions are right (See Tips for homemade vinegar).

Making vinegar is basically an easy process, but Moore acknowledges that the most difficult part may be getting access to someone else's live vinegar, which is necessary to start your own.

"I give (vinegar) to my friends who are cooks," he says. "I really like to see it go somewhere."

In fact, he gave some to a friend, Gilbert Pilgram, who is at Zuni Cafe in San Francisco and now making red wine vinegar there.

Half of the vinegar used at Zuni is house-made red, which mainly goes into salads. Pilgram says the vinegar tastes different from batch to batch and is more concentrated than conventional brands, which is how he prefers it. The vinegar appears cloudy because it isn't filtered, though some sediment settles out.

It takes three to four months for a batch to finish, depending on the proportion of starter to wine, and, once filled, the barrel or container is best left undisturbed. Zuni's vinegar barrel is kept in the wine cellar because the temperature is stable. The barrel at Camino is in the kitchen and does fine. Both chefs say to avoid wide temperature swings.

Mark Gordon, executive chef of San Francisco's Terzo and Rose Pistola, attests that too high a temperature can adversely affect the mother. Reed Hearon brought back the original mother from France in the 1990s, and there's been a barrel going ever since.

Rose Pistola's 30-gallon barrel, filled with a Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot blend, is kept in the basement 5-gallon glass jugs of Sangiovese are under a worktable. Both locations can get very hot, and Gordon says he had problems with the last batch and has had to start over again.

Rose Pistola goes through at least a couple gallons a month, though, unlike Moore, Gordon also purchases specialty vinegars such as Banyuls and apricot to enhance his dishes.

Gordon uses the house-made vinegar in Terzo's chicory salad with pancetta and gorgonzola, which stand up to the strong vinaigrette.

He also likes to make a gastrique, which has a sweet-sour, or agridolce, flavor. For a shortcut, he reduces vinegar with some spices, then adds honey to taste. He also adds vinegar to a sauce with a roasted chicken stock or veal reduction to help offset the richness, especially if he plans to finish it with a knob of butter.

"The acid makes it balanced, and you get more flavor than if you use just commercial wine vinegar," Gordon says.


How About a Second Method for Brining?

With a dry brine it's exactly as it sounds: you're using the dry ingredients from the solution but no water. According to Bon Appétit, "A dry brine does wonders for poultry, and is also a fine choice for off-the-cuff weeknight cooking."

Dry brines are a good options with skin-on upland birds or waterfowl because it can result in crispy, delicious skin. Rub the salt, sugar and other seasonings directly on the skin and let sit for a few hours. Bon Appétit recommends keeping the meat refrigerated for the majority of the time it's brining, but let it come to room temperature at least 30 minutes before roasting or cooking. Rinse off the dry ingredients and pat dry thoroughly before cooking.

Hank Shaw of "Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook" has a ton of awesome recipes that require brining the game beforehand, like this one and this one. Here's one of our favorites from Georgia Pellegrini's book, "Girl Hunter:"


Prep 15-20 min
Cook 2 hrs
Serves 4-6

75ml cider vinegar
700g pork shoulder, cut into 3cm chunks
4 tbsp ghee, neutral or coconut oil
500g onions, finely sliced (about 4 medium onions)
60g tamarind pulp
10 garlic cloves, finely sliced
5cm thick length of ginger, cut into slim matchsticks
4 ripe tomatoes, diced
2-4 small green chillies
10 curry leaves (optional)
1 tbsp jaggery or soft brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black mustard seeds

For the masala
2 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder or paprika
Seeds of 8 cardamom pods
1 tsp black peppercorns
8 cloves
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp turmeric
5cm cinnamon stick

Grind together all the ingredients for the masala, then stir in the vinegar. Rub into the pork and leave to sit for three to four hours.

1 Marinate the pork in the masala and vinegar mixture. Photograph: Dan Matthews for the Guardian.

Heat the oil in a wide, lidded pan over a medium-low flame, and fry the onions until soft and golden. Meanwhile, soak the tamarind pulp in 120ml of hot water for 15 minutes, then gently rub any remaining pulp from the seeds and strain off the liquid, discarding the solids.

Stir the garlic and ginger into the onions and cook, stirring, for another five minutes, then add the tomatoes, chillies and curry leaves, if using, and cook until the tomatoes start to break down.

2 Stir the garlic and ginger into the onions, then the ginger and curry leaves. Photograph: Dan Matthews/The Guardian

Add the pork and marinade to the pan and turn the heat up to medium high. Stir well, add the jaggery, salt and mustard seeds, followed by the tamarind liquid. Bring to a simmer, cover tightly, turn the heat right down and cook gently for an hour.

Partially remove the lid and cook for another 30 minutes, until the meat is very tender and the sauce has thickened.

3 Simmer to a rich, thick sauce. Photograph: Dan Matthews for the Guardian.

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