If it were up to me, it would have been No. 1, but 12 has always been my lucky number, so it's appropriate that red wine stars today.
Everyday Health picked red wine -- in small amounts -- because, they say, a small amount of any kind of alcohol each day does your heart good by increasing HDL cholesterol and reducing the risk of blood clots. They say that red wine also contains powerful antioxidants, reservatrol and saponins, which may provide additional cardiovascular benefits. That's the good news.
The bad news: Resist a refill because more than one drink a day has been linked to high blood pressure, exactly what my husband's cardiologist told him in January. Dr. Moskowitz said 4 ounces of red wine a day is fine, but made it clear that 5 ounces is too much, and if you have 4 ounces on Monday, that does not give you license to have 8 ounces on Tuesday. If you don't have red wine one day, you've lost that chance.
I look at it this way: If you limit yourself to 4 ounces of red wine a day, that eliminates any chance of ever getting a hangover. Love that. It also eliminates any chance of ever getting a slight buzz, but at least you’ll be healthy.
I am not a wine critic, so I’ll limit today’s tips to cooking with wine:
1. Only use wine in cooking that you would drink. Never, ever, use cooking wine. It’s horrid and way too salty.
2. Know that the alcohol in wine cooks off when it is heated, so that 4-ounce limit is not counted in your daily total. But for the alcohol to cook off, the wine needs at least 10 minutes of cooking time.
3. Full-bodied reds are perfect additions to marinades, stews and brown sauces, although I do have a slamming recipe for a white fish with a red wine sauce. At least I used to have one. I lost it years ago. Guess it's time for me to search the Internet!
4. White wine is a perfect addition to poultry and seafood.
5. The last two rules are definitely made to be broken.
What follows in one of the best red sauces, and comes compliments of "The Cook's Bible: The Best of American Home Cooking" by Christopher Kimball. He is the founder and editor of Cook's Illustrated magazine,which for many is the bible of cooking mags. I have made this sauce over and over again because it is just that good. My only addition is that I only use San Marzana tomatoes, which specify a region not a brand name. There are numerous canned tomato manufacturers who use this wonderful tomato. And since I use these sweet tomatoes, I never add the sugar.
BASIC MEAT SAUCE WITH RED WINE AND BRANDY
2 strips bacon
1 Tblsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and minced
1 large carrot, minced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 lb. ground beef or pork
1 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, drained, juice reserved (I use San Marzano tomatoes)
2 Tblsp. minced flat-leaf parsley
1/4 tsp. fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. sugar (I never add)
2 Tblsp. red wine
1 Tblsp. brandy
3 Tblsp. heavy cream
- Saute the bacon in a large skillet. Remove from pan, drain on paper towel, and reserve for another use.
- Pour off all but 1 1/2 tablespoons bacon fat and add olive oil. Over medium heat, saute the onions for 7 minutes.
- Add the carrots and cook for 5 minutes more.
- Add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes.
- Add the beef or pork and cook another 10 minutes.
- Place drained tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor and puree for a few moments until smooth, but still a bit coarse in texture. Add to the pan and cook for 10 minutes.
- Add remaining ingredients except the heavy cream and simmer for about 45 minutes. If sauce becomes too dry, add reserved tomato juice.
- Add the heavy cream, cook another 2 minutes, and then serve over pasta.
- Makes enough sauce for 2 pounds of lightly sauced pasta, or 1 pound of pasta if you prefer pasta heavily sauced.