I listen when sauce lovers talk. They tell me about their sauce problems while waiting in line at my bank or at my supermarket. Sometimes they tell me in emails. Part of the problem could be the variety of sauces found on restaurant menus today. Maybe more choices led to more confusion.
Sixty years ago, sauce usually meant a classic French blend, from the basic flour-thickened béchamel to satin emulsions such as hollandaise, to brown sauces based on high-intensity Escoffier broth. workforce. In the 70s and 80s, the new cuisine announced flourless sauces such as beurre blanc, as well as sauces based on pureed vegetables.
These sauces by no means died out, but they had to share the limelight with a whole new cast of sauces. American tastes have expanded and sauces can be cold or room temperature concoctions, salsas and dips, whipped mixes in a bowl rather than a pan. Here are four easy sauces that fall into the latter category.
Aioli is the savory Provençal garlic mayonnaise traditionally prepared with a mortar and pestle. I use a food processor to speed up the preparation. In France, it is served in the middle of a large platter, surrounded by vegetables cooked at room temperature – such as new potatoes, artichokes, aubergines and green beans. Fish, usually salt cod and boiled eggs are often included.
But over the past few years, aioli has become de rigueur as a topping for everything from burgers to grilled oysters to fries. I like to add mashed roasted red peppers because of the flavor they bring. Serve it over crab cakes or brushed on toast as a garnish for fish soups. If you like a little more attitude, you can add 1-1/2 tsp chili powder and/or 1/2 tsp ground cumin. See cook’s notes for more variations. The choice is yours.
Yield: About 1 cup
3 large garlic cloves, peeled
Optional: 2-3 pieces roasted red peppers, drained, patted dry, sold in jars at most supermarkets
1 cup mayonnaise
Pinch of cayenne pepper, see cook’s notes
Cook’s notes: For a spicy, slightly smoky version, add a dollop of mashed chipotle peppers (chipotles are smoky, jalapeños are red). Small boxes of chipotles are sold in most supermarkets in the Latin American specialty section or in Latin American markets. The chilies are wrapped in a tomato-based adobo sauce. I puree the adobo sauce and chiles together in a small food processor. Leftover chipotle puree can be frozen for future use.
Or to garnish seafood, I add chopped fresh herbs (like basil or chopped parsley) and a pinch of chopped lemon zest (colored part of the skin).
1. With motor running, add garlic to food processor fitted with metal blade; mix until chopped. Add the roasted red pepper and puree. Add 1 cup of mayonnaise and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Mix until well blended, scraping down sides of bowl if necessary. Refrigerate, tightly, for up to 2 days.
Use it: Serve it over cooked crab cakes or brushed on toast as a garnish for fish soups. Divine as a dip for fries, fried zucchini or chicken wings, as well as kebabs. Scatter it over broiled or broiled fish topped with fresh herbs and a squeeze of lemon zest.
This enticing sauce is a staple in Argentina, where it’s served with the country’s legendary grilled steaks. If desired, use half the sauce as a marinade for beef such as skirt steak, hanger steak, or flank steak before grilling – chill marinated meat in refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight. Serve grilled beef with remaining sauce, discarding marinade.
Yield: About 2 cups
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more if needed
3 to 4 garlic cloves, peeled, minced
1 shallot, peeled, finely chopped
1 red fresno or red jalapeño pepper, finely chopped (remove seeds before chopping for a less spicy sauce)
2 cups chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh oregano
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1. Combine vinegar, 1 tsp salt, garlic, shallot and chili in medium bowl. Let stand 10 minutes.
2. Stir in cilantro, parsley and oregano. Stirring with a fork, add the oil in a fine steam.
Use: Serve with grilled lamb, pork chops or beef (steaks are especially good), as well as roast chicken or salmon. It is also delicious on sautéed shrimp, grilled skewers or roasted vegetables. Stir it into cooked grains for a succulent salad.
Source: “The Grilling Book: The Definitive Guide from Bon Appetit” (Andrews McMeel, $45)
A Spanish Romesco sauce is a culinary gem. This thick, red-hued sauce can turn chicken, no matter the cut, into an irresistible dish. Salmon too. This version is a thick, coarse mixture of roasted red peppers, toasted hazelnuts, cubed bread, sherry vinegar, garlic, smoked paprika, and extra virgin olive oil. If you want a smaller amount, cut the recipe in half.
Yield: About 1 1/2 cups
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided use
1/2 slice hearty white sandwich bread, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skins removed; see cook’s notes
2 large garlic cloves, peeled, thinly sliced
1 cup jarred roasted red peppers, drained, patted dry
1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar; see cook’s notes
1 teaspoon of honey
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Cook’s notes: I use Trader Joe’s Whole Roasted Unsalted Hazelnuts. Much of the skin is removed, but not all – don’t worry. If using whole unroasted hazelnuts, place the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and place in a 350 degree oven for about 10-12 minutes (watch them to make sure they don’t burn), shaking the pan to swirl the nuts halfway through cooking. Transfer the nuts to a clean kitchen towel and pull the sides of the kitchen towel up and let rest for about 1 minute. Using the towel, gently rub the hazelnuts back and forth to loosen their skin (probably not all of the skin will come off). If you can’t find sherry vinegar, you can substitute it with red wine vinegar.
1. Place 1 tablespoon oil, bread and hazelnuts in 12-inch skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until bread is toasted on both sides, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds.
2. Transfer bread mixture to food processor; pulse until coarsely chopped, about 5 pulses. Add the red peppers, vinegar, honey, paprika, salt, cayenne pepper and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Pulse until finely chopped, 5-8 pulses. Sauce can be refrigerated, tightly sealed, for up to 2 days.
Use it: Pour it over broiled or broiled pork chops, lamb chops, or chicken breasts or thighs. It is delicious on toasted slices of French baguette. It is delicious served over roasted vegetables.
Source: Cook’s Country Magazine
Quick Green Goddess Sauce-Dip-Dip Dressing
Classic Green Goddess contains anchovies. This milder version omits the small salted fish, using the traditional bounty of fresh herbs and fresh lemon juice, adding sour cream with the mayonnaise.
Yield: 1 3/4 cups
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, peeled, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Whisk all ingredients together in a serving bowl until smooth and creamy. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to two days.
Use it: Use it as a dip with vegetables, solid crackers or crostini. Pour into cut portion of baked potatoes or serve over roasted asparagus. It is delicious over grilled fish or boneless, skinless roasted chicken thighs. Cut hard-boiled eggs in half; place cut side up on a plate and spoon a spoonful of this sauce over each egg. If you want to use it as a vinaigrette for romaine lettuce, dilute it with enough milk to make it thick but pourable.
Kitchen issue? Contact Cathy Thomas at [email protected]