Cooking with Vinegar

Chicken Adobo over Steamed Rice

Via a link in my Twitter feed, I read a blog post that indicated rice vinegar is not gluten-free. This statement gave me pause because, by definition, rice vinegar is absolutely gluten-free. The author of the post was trying to figure out why her son became sick after eating sushi, and she used bad research to determine rice vinegar has gluten.

The culprit was almost certainly not the rice vinegar in the sushi rice (it was more likely the wheat in the fake crab meat). As I researched this issue — thinking maybe I was crazy — I saw there was a lot of confusion about vinegar. This makes me sad as vinegar is a fantastic ingredient to add to your gluten-free kitchen.

To start with the obvious, vinegar is the basis of many a fantastic salad dressing. It takes mere moments to whip up a flavorful vinaigrette or salad dressing, and once you’ve tried your own, you’ll never go back to bottled! It’s also a great addition to sauces for all kinds of meats and vegetables — tonight I did a quick chimichurri-style influenced salsa using red wine vinegar.

One of my favorite dishes is Chicken with Vinegar Sauce (recipe below). This pan roasted/braised dish comes together quickly, and the braising mellows the vinegar delightfully. I always make sure I have plenty of leftover sauce for lunches. I like to play with different vinegars because I enjoy how different flavors develop — the mellow flavor of balsamic vinegar versus the sharp flavor of a wine vinegar are fascinating.

Just between you and me, whenever I go through the stack of recipes I’ve torn from magazines, I discover I’ve added yet another chicken with vinegar sauce recipe to my collection (not to mention the recipes I get from friends, like this great Chicken Adobo). And don’t get me started on pork and vinegar ideas!

Now a caution: not all vinegars are gluten-free. Malt vinegars, in particular, must be avoided. Flavored vinegars have additives, requiring a careful check of ingredients (I’ve never noted a problem, but I never take anything for granted).

Please share your favorite vinegar-based recipes. I’m always eager to add more vinegar to my diet!

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