How to Flambé
Knowing how to flambé can make the world of difference when wowing dinner guests. Although mostly for show, flambé is a useful technique for subduing the often harsh flavours of liquor whilst keeping the good ones. The following ‘how to’ talks you through the process.
1- Work out what liquor works best for your dish. I prefer to use dry vermouth, sweet vermouth or gin for savoury dishes, and rum and brandy for desserts (think Bananas Foster).
2- Practice doing it the safe way first by lighting the liquid without moving the pan. Rather than dice with death (and get in a mess) by trying to shake the pan in order to splash the liquor onto the open flame of the hob, it’s much safer and nearly as impressive to just ignite the liquid with a match or a candle lighter, and allow the flame to go out on its own.
3- Flambé meats twice: once in the beginning to create a basting sauce, and once again at the end in front of guests. Use a cast iron or enamel roasting pan, and make sure to get it very hot before adding your seasoned meat. Add 1/2 cup of liquor and ignite, then roast and baste often.
4- Start with a caramel before flambéing fruits. Sprinkle a couple tablespoons of sugar into a preheated shallow pan and allow it to melt. Once the sugar begins to turn amber, carefully add the fruit — make sure not to let your fingers touch the molten hot sugar. Allow the fruit to develop some colour, and then add a splash or two of your preferred liquor. Fruit flambé of any kind can be paired with ice cream, yogurt, cheese, or a savoury main.
A few notes on safety: Always pour the liquor gently into the pan. A splatter of booze can ignite the flambé prematurely if you’re not careful! Also, be sure to use a long match to create distance between your hand and the flame.
Roasted birds cornish hen at 450° F for 20 minutes, then lowered the temperature to 350° F for another 10, until the bird reaches an internal temperature of 165 °F. Once your roast is done, allow it to rest and flambé once again in front of guests.