Kitchen Tip: Cook with Vermouth

Vermouth has become my new favorite kitchen staple. It's a perfect substitution in recipes that call for white wine, but since the bottle doesn't have to be used up completely once opened, I can keep it in my pantry for months without having to worry about using up the whole bottle (or opening a brand new one just for a dish).

At around $10 a bottle it's inexpensive and adds a lovely depth of flavor to dishes. As it's a bit stronger than regular white wine, it can stand up to the heat of cooking, and--I've found--can often make for a better final dish.

If you've got a bottle already (most of us have one hanging around the back of the liquor cabinet), pull it out and give it a try the next time you saute chicken tenders or mushrooms. It's excellent with shellfish--especially clams, mussels, and shrimp--and makes an easy appetizer when simmered with sliced, pan-fried chorizo. I also find that it adds a sophisticated layer of flavor to bisques and other cream soups.

When choosing a vermouth as a substitution for white wine, make sure to stick with extra dry or white (bianco), though the sweet red (rosso) variety makes a great substitution for recipes that call for sweeter wines and liquors like Marsala, Port, or Cognac. Measurements are equivalent 1 to 1 (e.g. sub 1/2 cup of wine with 1/2 cup of vermouth).

As far as brands, there is no need to hunt around for something fancy; I've been using a $10 bottle of that ubiquitous Martini (the green bottle in the pic above) with great success.

The only warning? Don't forget to restock the liquor cabinet before your next party as those hardcore martini drinkers may not be as impressed with your kitchen thriftiness. ;)

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