The truth about balsamic vinegar
Jack Bishop, the resident Italian expert at America’s Test Kitchen, said he doesn’t like balsamic vinegar—at least as it’s used in many American restaurant and home kitchens. “I think balsamic has way too much personality to use in a salad dressing. It’s too sweet. It’s too strong. It’s just too much with delicate greens.
“I do like balsamic vinegar in pan sauces. It reduces into a sweet-and-sour syrup that works very well with chicken and pork dishes. I also love traditional balsamic vinegar (the stuff aged for at least a dozen years and priced at $60 per ounce) drizzled over berries or gelato. This heirloom condiment was used as a dowry among wealthy families in northern Italy — it’s that valuable.
“If you don’t want spent $150 for a tiny bottle of aged vinegar, you can take decent supermarket stuff and reduce it in a small saucepan with either sugar or ideally a little port. Use 1 tablespoon of sweet stuff for every 1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar. Cook this mixture at the barest simmer until reduced by half. The vinegar will now have the silky texture of aged balsamic. If vinegar with dessert is just too odd, a drizzle of aged balsamic (either the real stuff or “homemade”) is a nice way to boost the flavor of grilled meats or grilled fish.”