There's something about bourbon that just screams "party." Whether in an Old Fashioned or rolled into some bourbon balls, the dark, sweet spirit brings cheer to every party and dinner it attends. Your holiday season should contain many bourbon cocktails, yes, but don't overlook the culinary applications of the brown booze.
Bourbon can be used in a myriad of recipes, both savoury and sweet. Since I don't really believe in that whole "too much of a good thing" concept, I'm going to show you how to how to incorporate a whole lot of bourbon into your holiday meals.
Swirl It Into Sweet Potatoes
As a side, potatoes need little more than some butter and salt, but they also absolutely dominate the pie game. To incorporate it into your mash, simply cook a couple of tablespoons of the stuff with a few tablespoons of butter and for about a minute before mashing it with the potatoes. For pie, just add two tablespoons to your batter, along with your usual wet ingredients.
Mix It Into Gravy
Bourbon and meat are a natural pair, and you can easily incorporate the stuff into a gravy. Making bourbon gravy is as easy as making regular gravy. Just make it as you usually would and, when it comes time to add your broth, add 1/4 cup of bourbon (for every six cups of stock) in there as well. (Pour yourself the same amount in a glass while you're there.)
Make an Extra Special Vinaigrette
Did you think lettuce was going to escape, un-bourboned? Think again, my friend. A bourbon maple vinaigrette belongs on your salad, and will add a slightly decadent touch to an otherwise healthful plate of plant parts. You can add a couple of tablespoons of the booze to any vinaigrette, or you could use this:
2/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons bourbon
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons stone ground mustard
2 cloves garlic, very finely minced
2 tablespoons shredded or powdered Parmesan (the cheap stuff is actually great here)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
6 tiny sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves pulled from stems
Glaze a Ham
I love a glazed ham more than any other meat, and I love a booze-glazed ham even more. I loosely follow this recipe, which combines bourbon (I increase it to half a cup), crushed pineapple, garlic, honey, and brown sugar.
Score the ham, put it in a bag with your bourbon mixture, and let it hang out overnight before cooking as usual (kitschy pineapple rings and cherries are optional, though I recommend it).