Food Intoxication

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Is Your Food "'Intoxicating' You?

You don't drink alcoholic beverages or allow your children to, but you serve chicken baked in a wine sauce without batting an eye.

"The alcohol is burned off," you explain.

Guess again.

People have heard, and believed, that the alcohol in cooking liquors is burned off during the cooking process, but that theory was never scientifically tested.

Until now.

A team of researchers prepared six recipes, each recipe calling for some type of cooking liquor, and measured the amount of alcohol that remained in the entrée after the preparation. The results were quite dizzying.

The following recipes were prepared for the test:

Pot Roast Milano
Orange Chicken Burgundy
Scalloped Oysters
Brandy Alexander Pie
Cherries Jubilee
Grand Marnier Sauce

The different liquors that were used in the various recipes included:

Dry Sherry
Creme de Cocoa
Grand Marnier

After each of these recipes was prepared, the researchers measured the amount of alcohol that remained in each sample

The Pot Roast Milano still contained 4 to 6 percent of the alcohol that had been used in the recipe. The Orange Chicken Burgundy contained up to 60 percent of the original amount of alcohol used.

The Scalloped Oysters retained up to 49 percent of the original alcohol amount, and the Brandy Alexander Pie kept up to 77 percent of the recipe's amount.

The Cherries Jubilee and the Grand Marnier Sauce retained up to 78 and 85 percent of the original amount of alcohol from the recipes.

Reseachers were astonished at these results, especially because all but one of the recipes had been "cooked" in some manner.

The Pot Roast Milano had been simmered at 185°F for two and a half hours.

The Scalloped Oysters had been baked at 375°F for 25 minutes, and the Cherries Jubilee had been flamed for 48 seconds. Yet, in spite of the cooking, a great deal of alcohol had not been "cooked off".

The researchers found that the longer a recipe is cooked, the more alcohol is cooked off, and the larger the surface area of the cooking pan, the more alcohol evaporates during the cooking process.

However, all cooks should be aware that even after cooking a recipe for a long time in a large pan, some alcohol may still be present in the food.

From the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, April 1992.

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