Does alcohol “cook off” in a pan sauce?
When you cook with alcohol as in the reduced pan sauce here, most of the booze cooks away, leaving behind the flavor compounds to perfume the dish and the air around it. In this case, the beautiful smoky, vanilla, caramel flavors of bourbon.
But there are traces of alcohol left behind. Depending on the amount of alcohol, the level of heat, and the length of time you cook it, it can be an almost immeasurable trace, or it can be 5% or more.
If your goal is to avoid alcohol altogether, skip the bourbon in this recipe and substitute a bit of chicken stock instead. You’ll still have a luxurious, rich, creamy sauce, and you won’t feel like anything’s missing at all.
This ballpark of residual alcohol (a trace to just a few percentage points) holds true with most pan sauces. If you’re eyeing a recipe where wine is the main cooking liquid (think coq au vin, for example), your best bet is to choose another recipe altogether.