Balsamic vinegar doesn’t get the credit it deserves. It’s diverse enough to be used in almost any recipe, but for some reason it’s still typically only associated with Italian food. However, it’s time to break from that association. Balsamic vinegar is a versatile condiment that’s Whole30- and Keto-friendly, not to mention all-around delicious. As the saying goes, If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, but learning a few ways to tweak balsamic only makes it that much better for glazing, drizzling, and dipping your way to balsamic heaven. HelloFresh’s head chef and recipe developer Claudia Sidoti shared her go-to ways to hack store-bought balsamic vinegar into gourmet excellence.
One of the greatest things to caramelize is onions. All you need to do is add oil, brown sugar, and balsamic vinegar as you slowly let them wilt in the pan. If you want a little something extra, add more balsamic vinegar and turn your onions into a vegetarian gravy.
For an interesting sauce that’s good on everything from meat to salads, fruity glazes are where it’s at. Essentially, it’s a reduction of fruity jam (try raspberry) and grocery-store balsamic vinegar. Simply mix together a vinegar-jam ratio of 4:1 and let it simmer on the stovetop until it reduces by about half. Just be careful not to let it boil!
Ice Cream Topping
No joke, a quality aged balsamic vinegar is a wonderful treat. Because it’s aged, the vinegary tang has mellowed and you’re left with a sweet elixir that’s viscous enough to serve as a sauce by itself. Drizzle a smidge onto homemade vanilla bean ice cream — it’s like putting liquid fruit onto an already flavorful dairy dessert.
Why would you want to put balsamic vinegar in your ketchup? Good question. It’s because balsamic vinegar gives the tomato-based condiment a depth of flavor that you never knew was possible. Mind you, we don’t recommend simply mixing vinegar directly into your ketchup. Instead, make your own DIY ketchup by combining a basic tomato sauce, a pinch of brown sugar, and a couple tablespoons of balsamic into a saucepan. Let it simmer and reduce for an hour. Cool, then use on burgers, fries, and more.
Pan Sauce and Deglazer
How many times have you cooked potatoes or onions in a pan only to be faced with a leftover charred crust at the bottom? You no longer need to scrub that off with a sponge! Instead, add some balsamic vinegar and deglaze the pan. You’ll want to add herbs and broth until you have the quantity and exact flavor profile that you’re looking for to accompany whatever dish you’ve whipped up.
Instant Aged Balsamic Vinegar
So now it’s been established that balsamic vinegar is a kitchen hero. However, there are those times when a cheap bottle from the grocery store just isn’t going to cut it; sometimes you really want that thick, aged balsamic vinegar. Problem is, the real deal is pricey. Good thing you just need a sprinkle of sugar and a splash of port to transform the cheap stuff into an almost exact replica of vinegar that’s been aging for decades.
Do you have any other must-know hacks for balsamic vinegar? Show them to us @BritandCo.
(Photos via Brit + Co)