Balsamic is our vinegar of choice with salad. We have 10 other vinegars, but when we want rich flavor and low acidity, we always reach for the balsamic. We currently have different ages of traditionale balsamic, condimento balsamic, plus industriale flavored balsamics in blackberry, chocolate, fig and pomegranate (there are numerous other flavors to be had).
With so much balsamic on the shelf, we’re always looking for new ways to use them. The latest is reduced chocolate balsamic syrup on vanilla and chocolate ice cream, but here are classic uses:
Use balsamic vinegar as you would use wine, to finish dishes or reduce into glazes and sauces.
1. BALSAMIC GLAZE
If you reduce balsamic vinegar into a syrup, you get balsamic glaze, also called creme balsamica (balsamic cream). It’s a luscious condiment for drizzling over savory or sweet dishes. With its complex flavors—sweet, sour, fruity—at its simplest, it can enhance anything grilled or roasted, including panini and other grilled sandwiches. Even nachos!
Balsamic syrup is a dessert syrup, too: on ice cream, pound cake, puddings and more.
Here are dozens of ways to use balsamic glaze, and a simple recipe.
2. BRAISES WITH BALSAMIC VINEGAR
Braising involves searing the food over high heat, then stewing it in a liquid (in a covered pot at a lower temperature).
Whether you’re braising proteins or vegetables, add a tablespoon of balsamic to the braising liquid. It creates a rich layer of flavor with a hint of sweetness. It waves a magic braised fennel, braised radishes and other veggies.
It also waves a magic wand over caramelized onions and mushroom ragout.
3. MARINADES WITH BALSAMIC VINEGAR
Balsamic vinegar is a known tenderizer. It imparts a rich, sweet flavor to meat and a cook’s “secret” to tenderize meats. It’s also a star with portabella mushrooms and tofu.
You can make as simple a marinade as you like. We like this combination:
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 teaspoons light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
4 minced garlic cloves
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh rosemary
4. PAN SAUCES WITH BALSAMIC VINEGAR
The simplest sauce is made from the pan juices that result from sautéing a protein: fish, meat or poultry (photo #4).
When you deglaze the pan to make the sauce, add a splash of balsamic to the wine, broth or other liquid.
5. SOUPS WITH BALSAMIC VINEGAR
Many soups, including gazpacho, get a touch of glamour from balsamic vinegar. Stir a a half or whole teaspoon per serving at the end of cooking. It adds brightness and a sophisticated layer of flavor.
Or, splash or drizzle some balsamic on top of a thick purée (photo #2).
Tell your inner mixologist to get out the balsamic vinegar and add some (or more) sophistication to drinks.
You can add balsamic vinegar to soft drinks and club soda to make shrubs. Or, layer more flavor into cocktails.
This works best with bourbon and whiskey, which have heavier flavors than white spirits and are more adaptable to the balsamic.