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Booze will make your meat taste better

how to cook with alcohol
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Feasting is our column dedicated to cooking, grilling, eating and discovering what’s on the menu across America and the world.

Booze isn’t just for sipping. It adds flavor to some of our favorite dishes, from beer can chicken to rigatoni a la vodka. We love drinking a great glass of red wine while simultaneously pouring it into a Sunday gravy. Alcohol helps to tenderize meat and adds depth to sauces and reductions. In short, many of the familiar dishes you know and love would be quite different without it.

But it can be a little daunting to pour that whiskey in the pan—you wouldn’t want to add too much or, god forbid, waste that delicious brown liquid. To help you get started, we found three simple ways to cook with alcohol. You’ll be a pro in no time.

Pork Shoulder Bo Saam

Bo Saam
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By Jacobson Salt Co.

3-pound pork shoulder
Dry rub (recipe below)
1 can of light beer, like Sixpoint Brewery Gose
1 Tbsp black peppercorns (we like Jacobson)
1 head of garlic, split crosswise
1 onion, diced
3 heads butter lettuce or romaine
1 bunch cilantro, picked
1 bunch mint, picked and torn
1 bunch green onions, sliced
1 jar of your favorite pickles
Asian and American condiments of your choice (we love gochujang, sriracha, kimchi and Bee Local Hot Honey)

Dry Rub
6 oz Jacobsen Cherrywood Smoked Salt
2 Tbsp coriander, ground
2 Tbsp Korean chili flake
3 Tbsp Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp Paprika
2 tsp white pepper, ground
2 tsp star anise, ground
1 tsp fennel seed, ground
2 tsp onion powder
1 Tbsp mustard powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp ginger powder


  1. Combine the ingredients for the dry rub and rub all over the pork shoulder. Refrigerate for at least 4-6 hours or overnight if possible.
  2. Place the shoulder in a large roasting pan with the beer, black peppercorns, garlic and onion.
  3. Cover and roast at 275 F degrees for 6-8 hours until meat pulls apart easily. This can also be done in a crockpot.
  4. Uncover and raise oven temperature to 375 F for about 20-30 minutes until a nice crust forms on the outside of the pork. Let it rest for 45 minutes to an hour.
  5. Pull apart the pork and serve on leaves of butter lettuce with pickles, herbs and condiments of your choice.

Wasted Chicken

Wasted Chicken
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From The Single Guy Cookbook by Avi Shemtov

Serves 1

1 red bell pepper
1/2 white onion
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup baby bell mushrooms
1 tbsp bourbon (Scotch or cognac would work also)
2 tsp dark brown sugar
1 chicken breast (6–8 oz), cut into 1/2-inch-thick strips


  1. Cut the pepper and onion into thin strips. Heat the olive oil in a medium-size frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Add pepper, onion and mushrooms and use a wooden spoon to keep them moving so they don’t burn. As the veggies begin to soften, in about 3 minutes or so, add the bourbon and brown sugar, mixing them in so the sugar is not lumpy.
  3. Add the chicken to the pan, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Cook the chicken for about 10 minutes, or until cooked through. It’s ready to eat. Great on its own or over white or brown rice.

Boston Lager Potato Salad

Potato Salad
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Serves 6

36 ounces Samuel Adams Boston Lager
1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup diced celery
2 tablespoons chopped scallion, white and light green parts
2 tablespoons diced red onion
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon drained capers


  1. In a large pot, bring the lager to a boil over high heat. Immediately reduce the heat to medium so the beer simmers. Add the whole potatoes, let the beer return to a simmer, and cook for 10-15 minutes or until fork tender. Drain and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes or until cool enough to handle, but still hot.
  2. Peel the cooked potatoes and cut into 1-inch-thick cubes. Transfer the potatoes to a mixing bowl. Add the peppers, celery, scallions, onions, mustard and capers and toss to mix. Let the potato salad rest for about 15 minutes for the flavors to develop and then serve while still warm.
Amanda Gabriele
Amanda Gabriele is a food and travel writer at The Manual and the former senior editor at Supercall. She can’t live without…
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