Flambe is a method of cooking that is derived from the French word that means flamed. In this method of cooking, alcohol is added to the pan in which the food, mostly sauce, stir fries and sautés, and this catches fire to give a dramatic presentation. Though the food catches fire, flambé method does not burn it as the fire is short lived; however, it gives a nice smoky flavor to the food. Flambe recipes are quite common in the French cuisine and also in American, South American and Chinese cuisines and some popular flambé dishes are Bananas Foster, Steak Diane, Crepes Suzette, etc. Whatever maybe the dish, it is necessary to ensure that alcohol is never added to the pan or burner directly during the process of flambé.
History of Flambe Recipes
Flambe is supposed to have originated in the 14th century around the Moors. However, this way of cooking gained prominence only by late 19th century. There is another variation to the actual discovery of flambé, which is believed to have been sudden when Henri Carpentier, a waiter, accidentally set fire to a pan of crepes that were being prepared for Edward VII, the future king of United Kingdom. Though this theory has not been proved, it seems the safest assumption of the start of flambé in recent times.
Process of Flambe
Flambé is a process of cooking that needs a lot of care and it calls for special kind of skillet or flambé pan with a long handle. It is important to ensure that the food that has to be flambéed should be warm, as cold food will not let the alcohol catch fire, instead it will cool. It is also necessary to ensure that the liquor that is used in a particular flambé recipe has to be warm (around 130 degrees F) and not boiling, as the alcohol can evaporate in the process. Once the alcohol has warmed up, it can be poured into the pan holding the warm ingredients. The process of flambéing would last less than a minute. Once done, it is ideal to use a serving cart to hold the flambé dish.
Popular Flambe Recipes of Various Cuisines
Flambe dishes are quite popular in French and American cuisines. These dishes range from the appetizer to main course to dessert. Some well known flambé recipes are – French – Legumes Nouveaux Flambes is a delicious side dish of this cuisine. The wonderful combination of various vegetables makes it not only healthy but also filling. The vegetables that go into making this dish are carrots, turnip, onions, and certain spices and herbs. The dish gets its flambé flavor from brandy. Certain other well known flambé recipes are Fish Flambe Fennel (appetizer), Flambé Crepe (breakfast), and Coffee Crepes Flambe (dessert). American – Broiled Chicken Flambe is a popular main dish of this cuisine. This delectable dish is made with broiler fryer which is spiced with rosemary, basil, paprika, garlic powder, celery, salt and pepper. The chicken is cooked in butter and the gets its flambéed flavor with rum. Other well known flambé recipes of this cuisine are Banana Flambe Tomatza style (main dish), Veal Kidneys Flambe (side dish), and Apple Flambe (dessert).
Advantages and Disadvantages of Flambe
Flambe gives a wonderful flavor to the food and also has a dramatic effect, especially during a get together. However, if one is not careful while flambéing, it can end up causing a fire.
Flambe should never be done with alcohol pouring directly from the bottle, as the fire can reach out from the pan and go up to the bottle, resulting in an explosion.