To "flambe"?

Joined Dec 30, 1999
I understand "how" to flambe and that it burns off some of the alchohol. My question is how does the flavor become more rich as a result?

Inspired by the following question:
"Last night I was flaming the chicken with rum and lime recipe in Feb. Gourmet, and a guest thought it looked all very dangerous and asked whether just boiling the booze would serve the same purpose. I was surprised that I really didn't know -- I imagine with boiling you'd lose more liquid volume, but would the flavour be any different?"

[This message has been edited by cchiu (edited 01-30-2001).]


Joined Apr 4, 2000
From what I understand, when flambé a dish with alcohol, you actually burn the alcohol. What is left in your dish is the flavour or essence of the alcohol. If you boil the alcohol, it will not remove the alcohol itself, only warm it or reduce the volume of liquid.
Joined Feb 4, 2001
I was told by my bakery instructor that more alcohol goes out of the bakers chimney than ever gets into the bottle. The action of the yeast and sugar makes Co2 and alcohol. The heat of the oven evaporates the alcohol and away it goes. No need for flames.
Correct me if I'm wrong.

Joined Dec 30, 1999
I actually found a very good answer to my own question...

Flambe vs. Reduction

flambe (flahm-BAY) - It is a brief process performed to burn off the alcohol in a
spirit or wine. When done properly, the harshness of the raw alcohol disappears in
the blue flames :cool: , leaving behind an assertive yet smooth flavor. (Incidentally, to correct a common misconception, not all the alcohol burns off.) Flaming also adds
flavor when deglazing a pan after meat or poultry has been sauteed over high heat. A
residue of meat drippings remains caramelized in the pan. The cook flames the food
over low heat, which also burns off some grease, then adds a warm liquid such as
wine, broth, or water and scrapes the bottom of the pan. The residue colors and
flavors the liquid, which then is used in a sauce.

reduction - It is the process of cooking a liquid until some or most of the water has
evaporated. This not only thickens a sauce, but it intensifies its flavor.

I'm not sure the two can be directly compared because they do different things.
Reducing creates steam which evaporates water but not flavor, therefore
concentrating the flavor of the liquid that remains, but does not caramlize the
drippings. To flambe does not reduce volume but rather adds the flavor of the liquor.

Joined Aug 4, 2000
Without the flambe, banane flambe wouldn't taste nearly as good. The flambe carmelizes the sugar if executed properly. HTH
Joined Jan 5, 2001
Again I'm thinking of crepe suzettes here, but flambéing does provide a certain light caramelization of the surface of the product that boiling cannot. I think it's less important for sauces and meats.

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