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Bourbon Is The Unexpected Drink You Should Pair With Meaty Lasagna

bourbon in front meat lasagna
bourbon in front meat lasagna - Static Media / Shutterstock

Like tequila in Mexico or Champagne in France, bourbon is a true American spirit with strict guidelines as to its composition, aging, and place of production. While famous bourbon cocktails like Manhattans or mint juleps use mixers like bitters, herbs, and sugar to complement the sweet, spicy, and savory tasting notes, you can also pair bourbon with food for a mutual flavor enhancement. Lasagna is the unexpected dish that will make the perfect food pairing for bourbon.

By legal definition, American bourbon is predominantly corn whiskey that's aged in oak barrels with at least 40 percent alcohol by volume. Depending on the recipe, bourbon tasting notes include baking spices like clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg, sweet dessert flavors like caramel, vanilla, and chocolate, as well as savory nuts, spicy black pepper, and toasted oak. Bourbon's depth of flavor and warm, smooth finish will stand up to the creaminess of cheese or bechamel and the umami-richness of any ground beef and pork that make up lasagna's decadent layers.

Bourbon's complexity is a worthy match for the various layers of savory sauces and ingredients, many of which share similar tasting notes. Parmesan, for example, mirrors the nutty notes found in bourbon. Bourbon's peppery and toasted wood notes will enrich the sweet and savory flavors of cooked tomatoes and ground beef. A buttery, heavy bechamel sauce or ricotta layer will also benefit from the baking spice and peppery notes characteristic of bourbon's palate.

Read more: The 27 Best Bourbon Brands, Ranked

The Best Types Of Bourbon To Pair With Lasagna

neat bourbon in short glass
neat bourbon in short glass - sweet marshmallow/Shutterstock

For a dish as rich and comforting as lasagna, you'll want a bourbon that is bold and complex. Generally, the longer bourbon ages, the more refined its taste and the higher its alcohol content will be. High-proof bourbon has a stronger kick and makes the ideal pairing for lasagna.

Most bourbon distillers offer various ages of bourbon and a distinct ratio of corn to other grains, which will affect the flavor notes. A robust and rich bourbon with a peppery, smoky finish and baking spice aromas would work well with the different savory flavors in lasagna. Some top-shelf bourbon brands that fit the bill include Henry McKenna's 10-year single barrel, Calumet Farm's 16-year-old single rack bourbon, and Barrell Bourbon's 10-year-old small batch bourbon.

The higher the content of corn, the sweeter the bourbon. Rye will add spicy notes, and wheat tends to add a malty, bread-like flavor. A wheat and corn bourbon will be sweeter and more savory than a rye-heavy bourbon, which will be spicy and sharp. Both flavor profiles, refined by a longer stint in the oak barrel, will work well with lasagna.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.