It's expensive. Hard to find. And needs care.
But Balsamic vinegar of Modena is like a precious pearl necklace: you can't keep it closed in the dark of your cupboard. You have to use it. On special occasions sure, but even daily, why not?
It's just important to use it properly.
Here are 5 ideas to use Balsamic in your home cooking.
Vanilla Gelato at Osteria Francescana
When Orwell wrote that 2+2=5 he wasn't thinking of Balsamic, maybe.
But the sum of two of the best Italian excellences makes an even better one.
I still remember the face of Phil Rosenthal during the shooting of Somebody feed Phil episode in Modena, when he tried Balsamic on gelato for the first time. Pure joy.
But not all gelato fits great.
Not pistachio or hazelnut.
Go with egg cream, vanilla, zabajone.
Roasted Radicchio, Speck and Balsamic Salad
"Don't waste Balsamic on salad!" you've probably read online.
In Italy we don't use dressings for salad, just salt, extra virgin olive oil and sometimes, vinegar.
I think that even a few drops of Balsamic can transform a sad salad into a rich dish.
My perfect fit? Red radicchio, nuts, seeds and goat cheese.
Risotto with Parmigiano Reggiano and Balsamic vinegar
I'm telling you the most important rule to use Balsamic: never cook it. Never.
Balsamic is cooked must, aged for years and years to get its unique and intense aromas. If you cook it again you'd kill most of those flavours.
Risotto is a great way to use Balsamic though. But kKeep it simple.
A good broth, Parmigiano Reggiano and butter to cream it and, only at the very end far from the heat, add Balsamic.
A 12 years old aged (Tradizionale) would work great, less dense and fresh to contrast the richness of the cheese.
4. Parmigiano Reggiano
Parmigiano Reggiano and Balsamic make a great finger food
The perfect marriage.
The one who lasts for decades but refreshes its love every day. A few drops of sweet and acid Balsamic on an old Parmigiano cheese make it the perfect finger food ever.
If you like to dig deep into Parmigiano Reggiano and Balsamic, they are the heart of our food tour in Modena
Just a few drops of Balsamic help digestion
I've read strange things online about Balsamic. Like adding sugar and cinnamon to it.
But Balsamic is perfect as is. Please don't add anything to it, trying to change its flavour and taste.
If you've bought a good Tradizionale or Extravecchio (if you haven't, read where to buy Balsamic vinegar of Modena) my suggestion is to just have a teaspoon after dinner as a digestive.
Balsamic was used as a medicine in the past, so the reason of its name.
Any other ideas? How do you use Balsamic at home?
Look forward to reading your recipes.
[photos: Adam Goldberg, Citrus and Candy, Hiroko Kasagi, Pamela Ciattaglia]