The term flambé [flahm-BAY]
is a French word meaning "flaming" or "flamed."
Flambé means to ignite foods that have liquor or liqueur added. This is done for a dramatic effect and to develop a rich flavor
of the liqueur to the foods without adding the alcohol.
Executive Chef Dave Lynch and Kelly Schweitzer of
The Rutherglen Mansion in Longview, Washington demonstrate how to
- Please remember to use extreme caution here, you
will be dealing with a liquid that is on fire.
- Do not carry the dish while
flaming, this is best done on a serving cart slightly away from your table.
a large metal lid on hand, to cover the dish in case your flambé gets out of
How To Flambé - Steps Used In
- Have all your equipment and
ingredients needed to flambé your dish ready before starting the
- Use an 80-proof liquor/liqueur or
40% alcohol by volume for flambéing.
Choose liquors or liqueurs that are
complimentary to the food being cooked, such
as fruit flavored brandies for fruits and desserts and whiskey or cognac for
Beer, Champagne, and most wines can not be used
Liquors above 120-proof are highly flammable
and considered dangerous when lit.
Liqueurs that are of a lower proof run the risk of not igniting when
held to the flame.
- Cold liquor will not ignite! Heat the brandy or liquor in a saucepan,
with high sides, just until bubbles begin to form around the edges (around 130
degrees F. or 54 degrees C.) before adding to the flambé pan (you will
be able to see vapors rise from the liquid).
Do not bring the liquor to
a boil, as the liquor will burn off the alcohol, and it will not ignite.
The boiling point of alcohol is 175 degrees F. (much lower than water).
The liquor can also be heated in a microwave oven by heating 30 to 45 seconds in a microwave-proof dish at 100 percent power.
- Use a flambé pan, large skillet, or
large chafing dish with rounded, deep sides and a
- If you are
planning to flambé in front of your guests, light the dish at the
table, but far away from guests and flammable objects. If you have a
serving cart, now is the time to use it.
- Never pour liquor from a bottle into a pan that is near
an open flame (the flame can follow the stream of alcohol into the bottle and cause it to explode).
Always remove the pan with the hot liquor from the heat source
before adding the liquor to avoid burning yourself.
If the dish doesn't light, it's probably not hot enough.
- Once you add the liquor to
the pan, do not delay lighting. You don't want the food to absorb the raw
alcohol and retain a harsh flavor.
Ignite with a long match (such as fireplace
matches or a long barbecue lighter).
Always ignite the fumes at the edge of the
pan and not the liquid itself. Never lean over the dish or pan as you light the fumes.
- Let cook until flame disappears (at this point all alcohol has burned off).
If you want to retain some of the alcohol flavor, cover flaming dish to extinguish flames or add additional wine or stock.
- Serve the dish as soon as the flames disappear.
If you want the flames, but do not want
the liquor in a dessert, soak sugar cubes in a flavored extract. Place the cubes
around the perimeter of the dish and light.
sure to practice flambing before your guests come as you want to
make sure that these steps are performed flawlessly, if you want to
impress your guests.