As Thanksgiving rolls around, you’re surely thinking about the different kinds of dishes you’ll be preparing for your family’s feast. While turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce is a given, you may not have considered what kinds of appetizers or desserts – outside of pumpkin pie, of course – that you’ll be serving. These are two options that benefit the most from some high quality balsamic vinegar, but they’re far from the only ones.
Here are a few ways you can work this rich, decadent vinegar into your Thanksgiving meal this year, much to the delight of all your guests:
The Kitchn suggests diluting balsamic vinegar in soda water so you can use it in pre-dinner cocktails. The mild, tangy flavor is incredibly versatile, making it the perfect addition to any alcoholic drink. It pairs well with a sweet bourbon cocktail, as well as a fragrant gin mix . Another method of using this vinegar in your drinks is to soak fruit in it for a day or do, before your guests are expected to arrive. This way, when they make their drinks, they can try balsamic in their drinks without having to commit to a fully-balsamic cocktail. For example, your guest could drop a balsamic-drenched cherry in their old fashioned, or a strawberry covered in vinegar in their gin lemonade. You can even offer a nonalcoholic option by simply mixing fruit juice with balsamic vinegar that’s diluted with soda water. However, you should still offer non-balsamic drinks for your guests, too.
Make a syrup
A balsamic syrup is just as versatile as the vinegar itself. Creating a syrup or reduction not only makes the vinegar sweeter, but it cuts down on the acidity as well. While you won’t want to reduce a high-quality, expensive balsamic blend to a syrup, this is a great way to get some use out of a bottle of lower-quality vinegar. Simply heat it up in a sauce pan with some sugar or honey, and toss in some cinnamon or clove in for a seasonal, spicy touch. Let this mixture get thick and syrupy, then let it cool down in the refrigerator. It’s a great topping for ice cream, pies or any other sweet dessert. You can also keep the balsamic syrup in a bowl next to a fruit plate for dipping. Most notably, strawberries and figs go best with the tangy flavor. If you prefer your cocktails sweet as well, this syrup can replace the balsamic mixture diluted in soda water.
“Too much balsamic can get overwhelming.”
Marinate with it
While you won’t be marinating your family’s Thanksgiving meat dish, that doesn’t mean you can’t use balsamic vinegar to marinate your appetizers. For example, rather than making a traditional caprese or bruschetta, drizzled with balsamic vinegar, you can marinate the tomatoes used in the appetizers so they take on a richer flavor. You don’t have to draw the line at tomato, though. No matter your favorite holiday hors d’oeuvre, chances are, it’ll benefit from a little balsamic marinade. It’s important to keep in mind that even though balsamic vinegar is an incredibly beloved addition to many dishes, it is very strong. Don’t go overboard with the ingredient because it can become overwhelming.
When all else fails – drizzle
While all of the above options are sure to impress your guests, they all take a little bit of extra preparation. if you’re cooking for a large group of people this Thanksgiving, doing fancy things with your balsamic vinegar may be out of the question. That doesn’t mean you have to go balsamic-less, though! A foolproof option is to simply drizzle the food at hand with a high-quality vinegar. Whether you choose to enhance an appetizer with it, or drizzle it on a pie for something a little different, balsamic vinegar offers a distinctive taste that’ll make everything more enjoyable. As always, you can always leave a bottle of it on the table so your guests can dress their salad with it, too.