Note About Chili
Dear Uncle Carl:
It's a curious fact that although water boils at
100°C (212°F), and alcohol boils at 78.5°C (173°F), a
mixture of alcohol and water will boil at a lower temperature than
either pure alcohol or water on its own.
You see, alcohol and water are a bit moleculist (the
molecular equivalent of a racist), but only a bit, meaning they stick
with their own kind just a bit tighter than with each other. So, when
the water and alcohol are mixed, an individual water molecule is
further away from other water molecules, making it much easier for it
to escape and vaporize. Likewise for the alcohol.
So what's this got to do with chili? All of this
aroma-building serves no purpose whatsoever unless those aromas reach
your nose, right? So after cooking the chili, my goal should be to get
as much of the aroma out of the bowl, and into the air as possible. I
reasoned that by adding a couple shots of hard liquor—say some vodka,
bourbon or tequila—I'd not only help the alcohol-soluble flavor
compounds in the chili reach my nose and mouth more efficiently, but
because of the mixture's azeotropic nature, I'd actually help the
water-soluble compounds vaporize more efficiently as well.
Well, I'm not sure I fully understand what Eric is saying. I gotta
think about that a while. Probably have to test the vodka to make sure
it hasn't gone bad... but I'm going to try it when I make my next
batch of Chili.