Anyone else feel like getting sauced?

Like most chefs, if some one says we are having chicken for dinner my first question is “with what”?  Blame A1, blame the French, blame Heinz, but I can’t look at a plate with a meat, a vegetable, and a starch and think it is complete…

There are a few options like: mojo, marinara, essence, foam, aioli, béchamel, gastrique, veloute, curry, salsa, chimichuri, espangole, hollandaise, béarnaise, mayonnaise, mustard, dashi, hoisin, fish, Worcestershire, chutney, cream, rouille, BBQ and lest we forget ketchup… to name a few.   Now don’t go and poo poo the ketchup and mayonnaise.  You don’t make the leap from sauce to condiment by sucking.

We use sauces, especially condiments, to quickly and conveniently balance the flavors in our food.  Sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and hot… these are what make food taste good, and balancing them is the true art in cooking.  Everyone does it, instinctively, without thinking about it; that salty hot dog sure does taste better with some ketchup or maybe some relish; both of which are sweet and sour sauces.  Sweet and sour chicken… lets add some soy sauce.  Tequila with salt.. add a little lime.  OK maybe that last one was a bit of a stretch.

We also use sauces to add fat… lots of fat.  Tuna is one of the healthiest foods in the world.   Tuna fish salad is not.  The difference…. sauce… mayonnaise, that culinary miracle that has us convinced that spreading egg yolks and oil on our ham and cheese is OK.   Perhaps my favorite example… eggs Benedict: a buttered English muffin, Canadian Bacon, a soft poached egg… what could this be missing?  Oh…I know… more butter and more eggs (aka Hollandaise sauce.)

So what’s a health conscious chef to do… Tonight is yet another beautiful fall grilling night in Colorado.  Lamb kabobs, roasted garlic hummus, grilled squash and Tzaziki.  Pronounced tuh-ZEE-kee, most of you have had the awful condiment version slathered on a gyro stand gyro or a Pita Pit wrap.  The real deal is a simple mixture of Greek yogurt (non-fat in my case), minced cucumber, dill, lemon, garlic and salt.  Zero fat and the perfect accompaniment to grilled meats and fishes.  Scientifically speaking it adds salt and sour while the texture of yogurt simulates the fattiness of cream.

Try this recipe……  If you have leftovers eat it with broccoli or carrots for a truly guilt free snack.

One last thought…  NEVER BUY HUMMUS again.  If you make your own version of this incredibly easy staple, it will pay for that food processor you already own in a few months.  I promise to blog more on this topic soon.

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