Secret Ingredient: Bringing Vinegar Into the Spotlight

July 25, 2018 Updated: October 8, 2018

Tanner Agar, owner of Rye restaurant in McKinney, Texas, praises the value of vinegar.

Secret Ingredient: Vinegar. It’s not unexpected, but it is criminally under-appreciated.

How to Use It: Vinegars draw out the existing flavors of your food, add balance to the dish, and bring nuanced elements you can’t get anywhere else. I started making my own—I’ve had many over the years, but my Guinness vinegar is a constant favorite. Put that in a spritzer bottle and add it to fries; it’s amazing every time.

Tanner Agar, owner, Rye restaurant. (Zach Freeman)

Alex Baker, executive chef of Yves in New York City, highlights sherry vinegar in particular. Capirete is her favorite.

Secret Ingredient: Sherry vinegar. It’s such an under-appreciated vinegar. It’s balsamic’s cooler cousin! It’s often less expensive than balsamic and is much more complex.

How to Use It: When I worked in kitchens in Paris, the chefs always used sherry vinegar to finish sauces and brighten their dishes. I finish almost all my sauces and jus with just a touch of sherry. I also use it in dressings, to marinate fresh summer vegetables like tomatoes and beets, and in soups.

Alex Baker, executive chef, Yves. (Patrick Dunford)
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