Best use for expensive, old balsamico?
April 7, 2008 11:01 PM   Subscribe

Aged balsamic vinegar recipes/uses?

I recently came into possession of a very nice bottle of 25 year old aged balsamic vinegar. I've had it over vanilla gelato, but am wondering if there's other recipes or ways of utilizing/showcasing it's distinctive flavor.

The only other recipes I know of I found from the company itself, and cursory googling. Ideally I'd like something along the same vein of the gelato dish, in that it really showcases the flavor without using up too much of the actual balsamico.

posted by zap rowsdower to Food & Drink (25 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Well, for basically the same effect as the vanilla gelato, you could spoon a little over angel food cake, with (optionally) a few strawberries.
posted by crinklebat at 11:17 PM on April 7, 2008

There's not much you can do with it, cooking-wise. In my extremely limited experience, once it comes in contact with heat, it'll lose everything that makes it special (and will be indistinguishable from standard balsamic reduction). I'd just drizzle it over fruit. The vanilla/strawberries sounds excellent, and I'd also recommend pears and peaches. Hell, a tiny bit of 25-year balsamic goes a long way, so experiment a little.
posted by suckerpunch at 11:26 PM on April 7, 2008

Or skip the angel food cake entirely, and add a few drops of aged balsamic vinegar directly to the fresh strawberries.

More importantly, and more generally, though, is what I think of as the Third Secret of Deliciousness:

3. Finish with acid.

Adding just a little bit of acid just before serving, whether it's a light squeeze of fresh lemon, or a drizzle of good balsamic vinegar, will make almost any food extra delicious-- soups, stews or pasta sauces; grilled meats, fish, or vegetables; practically anything wirth eaing in the first place can be improved this way. Seriously.

In case you're wondering, the First and Second Secrets of Deliciousness are as follows:

1. Don't fear the fat.
2. No, that's not too much salt.

posted by dersins at 11:34 PM on April 7, 2008 [2 favorites]

Mix with excellent olive oil, fresh minced garlic, and a bit of salt. Dip fresh, crusty pugliese bread chunks therein and enjoy.
posted by lore at 12:00 AM on April 8, 2008

thirding fresh, ripe strawberries (and other fruits): put a drop of vinegar on strawberry, bite, swoon, regain consciousness, repeat. Also, see if you can find some aged (24 months at least) real parmigiano, see strawberries for procedure.
posted by _dario at 12:06 AM on April 8, 2008

Drizzle a few drops onto thin slices of fresh parmesan or grana cheese.
posted by zaelic at 1:47 AM on April 8, 2008

One of my favorite things to make is broccoli with a dash of balsamic vinegar. I cut all the florets off a big head of broccoli, melt about a tablespoon of butter and sautee for about 4 minutes. Then I dump about 1/4 cup of a liquid (white wine, chicken broth, etc.) in, then cover it till the broccoli is nearly done. Then uncover and let the liquid evaporate. (I've managed to get this down so that most of the liquid is evaporated, but the broccoli isn't overcooked - dunno how I managed that.) Anyway, after that's done, dump it into a bowl and toss with balsamic vinegar to taste. Bonus points if you cook it with a strip or two of bacon instead of using butter.
posted by azuresunday at 3:10 AM on April 8, 2008

I assume you either already know about or don't like using it with fresh, really good tomatoes?
posted by opsin at 3:38 AM on April 8, 2008

Balsamic vinegar is amazingly yummy on avocado.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:56 AM on April 8, 2008

Mostly thaw some frozen blueberries. Splash with balsamic vinegar (and, if you must, a little sugar). Eat.
posted by PatoPata at 6:05 AM on April 8, 2008

Mix with excellent olive oil, fresh minced garlic, and a bit of salt. Dip fresh, crusty pugliese bread chunks therein and enjoy.

I'd save this one for something cheaper. Proper balsamico should not be mixed with oil or garlic - it will completely mask the subtle flavors.

Second drizzling on a thin wedge of fine aged parmesan (and serve with fresh figs and prosciutto), or pouring a teaspoon or so over a steak right before serving, after resting.
posted by Caviar at 6:37 AM on April 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Prosciutto-Wrapped Shrimp with Basil, Mozzarella, Extra Vecchio Balsamico & Aïoli is an appetizer and/or meal that is near the top of my list. Using generic grocery store ingredients this recipe is very tasty. But if you splurge a bit and get the highest quality fresh ingredients, this dish becomes exceptional. The combination of flavours is sublime. And it looks impressive too! Aged balsamic is the one ingredient I haven't been able to find (OK, I'm too cheap), so I'm envious that you've got a bit to play around with.
posted by Kabanos at 6:50 AM on April 8, 2008

By the way, I've never had that brand, but there's some contention about what constitutes "true" balsamico. The Modena camp, which claims loudly to be the real thing, puts theirs in a special glass bottle that no one else is allowed to use, which is then certified by the CONSORZIO PRODUTTORI ACETO BALSAMICO TRADIZIONALE DI MODENA. Yours is from Reggio Emilia, a nearby town, which also has the distinction of being the birthplace of the Reggio Emilia approach to children's education.

That doesn't mean yours isn't very good. (I've had 25-year Modena Balsamico. It's divine.)
posted by Caviar at 6:50 AM on April 8, 2008

Seconding pears. Sprinkle some of that over poached pears. MMMMMM.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 7:35 AM on April 8, 2008

Seconding dersins's advice. My aunt (an awesome cook) has told me that before.

Oil-and-vinegar dressing. As I recall (from Alton Brown); mix a teaspoon of mustard (I like grey poupon) with 1/4 cup vinegar, slowly pour in 1/4 cup olive oil, whisking as you go. Salt & pepper to taste.

(Note to self: Try this with the special bottle of spicey balsamic vinegar my friends got me at Christmas, that I still haven't opened.)
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 7:55 AM on April 8, 2008

ObscureReferenceMan, that'd be some pretty damned expensive salad dressing, as the stuff zap rowsdower is talking about can cost as much as $30 an ounce.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:59 AM on April 8, 2008

This stuff isn't vinegar is any culinary sense of the word - it's what comes after vinegar.

Forget about using it for anything where you'd normally use any sort of regular vinegar.
posted by Caviar at 8:14 AM on April 8, 2008

Probably the best course in my most favorite meal ever was so simple: panna cotta and speck, with a shmear of a bechamel-like sauce and a few drops of older-than-my-dad balsamic vinegar.
posted by milkrate at 8:44 AM on April 8, 2008

When I asked this at Metachat, I got some delicious answers from the genius gourmands there.

But drizzling it straight out of the bottle onto roasted vegetables is still my favorite use.
posted by Elsa at 9:00 AM on April 8, 2008

Spectacularly bad advice, ORM. You mix vintage champagne with OJ for a mimosa, too?

Nthing parmesan, pears as natural substrates. A small salad consistying of shaved fennel, shaved pears, some arugula, some shaved parmesan and a splash of your vinegar would rock my world.

You need to follow that with a nice lobe of seared fois, with some fresh pineapples around it, and drizzled with a dash of your vinegar.
posted by lalochezia at 12:10 PM on April 8, 2008

I had a bottle of that a while ago and kept it on the kitchen table. Whenever I'd eat something tasty but fairly plain, I'd drizzle some on. I can't recall any bad combinations, and particularly good ones are already mentioned above -- I think my favorite was fresh pears and delicious cheese.
posted by mismatched at 2:00 PM on April 8, 2008

I seem to recall Alton Brown freezing it and eating the balsamic-ice on bread, or with ice cream.
posted by Brian James at 5:13 PM on April 8, 2008

ObscureReferenceMan, that'd be some pretty damned expensive salad dressing, as the stuff zap rowsdower is talking about can cost as much as $30 an ounce.

Doh! That's out of my price range.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 7:33 PM on April 8, 2008

Brian James.... half a head of romano lettuce, in butter and parmesean cheese, frozen red-wine vinegar on top, OM NOM NOM.
posted by zengargoyle at 9:10 PM on April 8, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions! Tried it out tonight on some nice aged and grilled steak. Was delicious. Followed that up with some for dessert drizzled over some fresh strawberries.

Will be looking out for some tomatoes later on in the season, and will also be looking into the poached pear idea.

Again, thanks!
posted by zap rowsdower at 12:21 AM on April 9, 2008

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