August 19, 2012 6:16 PM Subscribe
I added some red wine to a hot pan containing some carmelized onions and garlic and spices and just-added cold ground turkey. FWOOM the wine ignited as if it were brandy in souvlaki. Wha?
posted by mwhybark to Food & Drink (12 answers total)
I make this spaghetti sauce about once a week, and the addition of a flavoring liquid as the meat goes in to the pan is normal. There were some more onions in the pan than usual, but not an amount I haven't cooked with previously.
The wine was a 13.9% ABV from Twisted, possibly the Old Vines Zinfandel. The wine did not appear or taste as if it had more booze than marked and would NOT match light immediately thereafter.
I kept my head and looked closely at (well, carefully observed) the flame, and the smell and appearance of the fire confirmed it as an acohol fire to my satisfaction. It burned over safely without charring a thing and definitely did contribute a bit to the flavor profile of the finished sauce.
I still cannot figure out how or why exactly it happened. I think the physics are clear enough - the heat of the pan kept enough of the wine in a vapor or gas that the booze was able to combust. However, I think that is an insufficient explanation - I have been adding wine to cookery for 20 years and have only seen harder booze, sherries or brandies, catch fire at all, and certainly never have seen either a sherry or a brandy just combust.
What happened? Can I reproduce this in a safe manner? Did the onions somehow contribute?