Posts Tagged ‘sauce’

Flexible Romesco Sauce

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I’m a great fan of the Spanish Romesco sauce, and while I love it in its classic form, I also find its basic structure an adaptable framework that will support a lot of variations. Right now I’m digging up last year’s Autumn King carrots to make room  for a new planting. They are too tough now for eating fresh, but they are still sweet and flavorful, so I’m using some to make roasted carrot Romesco sauce.

To start, turn the oven on to 500 degrees. Then one large Autumn King carrot (or two regular carrots) is cut in slices. One small onion is cut in quarters. Three cloves of garlic are separated from their head but not peeled. I use two roasted tomatoes out of my freezer, but you can put in two tomatoes, either fresh or canned plum tomatoes, to roast with the other veggies. Toss the veggies lightly in olive oil and put them on a sheet pan to roast, watching carefully because they can burn quickly.

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When the carrot looks roasted but not burned and the onion is softened and translucent, take the veggies out. Skin the onion and peel the garlic cloves. Put all the roasted stuff in the food processor with half a cup of roasted almonds and grind as finely as possible. If you are using pre-roasted tomatoes, add them now and grind with the rest. Add two teaspoons of any of the following chiles: ground red New Mexico chile, or Spanish Nora chile, or half Spanish smoked Pimenton and half ground chipotle chile. This last mixture adds a beautiful heat and smoky edge, and is my own favorite. Process, and add two tablespoons of either lemon juice or sherry vinegar. I prefer the sherry vinegar, but a Romesco with lemon can be good with shrimp. Now add really good olive oil until the mixture comes together as a somewhat loose paste. Add more chile if needed. Salt to taste; it’s a condiment, and I like it on the salty side. Serve with roasted vegetables, or meat or chicken roasted rather plainly, or slices of baguette, or cold shrimp, or blackened fish, or nearly anything.

There are lots of other possibilities for a good flexible Romesco.  Roasted peeled red peppers are traditional. Roasted winter squash or sweet potato might be good, and I can imagine using roasted kale or chard leaves for a really dark, earthy, and healthy version. In my opinion the roasted tomatoes are necessary, but I’ve seen recipes that don’t include them. Some people prefer toasted bread crumbs to nuts to add body. And I can’t tell you how much sauce this will make, because I don’t know how much olive oil will taste right to you.

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I recently ate it with tiny crisp-fried bits of chicken and low-carb flaxseed focaccia and it was very, very good.

Kitchen Staples: homemade Worcestershire sauce


Many years ago, chef Emeril Lagasse published his recipe for homemade Worcestershire sauce, and although some pretty perverse versions of it have made their way around the web, the original was awfully good. Over time, though, I’ve come up with a version of it that I like even better. It’s great as a sauce for burgers or roast chicken, used to season vegetables, or used to cook vegetables. It also has a lot of healthy stuff in it and is a rich amalgam of all things umami. In many ways it’s like the old “mushroom catsup” of an earlier America, a potently flavored brew that has nothing in common with the bright red ketchup we know today. Winter is fading away, so make it now, when simmering something all evening still seems like a good idea.
The bad news is that, if you don’t grow horseradish, you will have to locate some fresh horseradish root. Many upscale groceries and food co-ops have it or can order it. There is no substitute, and without it the sauce is banal and bland and you’d be better advised to spend your evening doing something else. When you do locate some, buy twice as much by weight as you need, hack the root you bought in half, and plant half. Water it well. Simple as that. Horseradish can get big and invasive, but if you keep using the roots, that won’t happen. Also, the anchovies aren’t optional, so this sauce is not for vegetarians and vegans. This is a time when I have to give up all pretense of flexibility and ask that you please, just once, make it exactly the way it’s written. After that, fool with the recipe all you like. This makes a lot, and you can cut it in half for the first try, but if you want to have some to give away, the larger amount is no extra trouble to make.
You will need:
8 ounces of anchovy fillets in olive oil (for reasons of economy, I buy the Roland anchovy fillets from Spain in 1 pound cans to make this sauce.They can be found at restaurant supply warehouses and are both inexpensive and good.)
1 gallon of decent red wine (5 standard wine bottles.) The Mondavi Woodbridge reds work well. You are going to concentrate it, so you don’t want anything that you’d be unwilling to drink a glass of.
1/2 pound of fresh horseradish, peeled and finely grated.
3 cups of dark or amber agave nectar
10 dried shitake mushrooms (from an Asian grocery)
2 lemons
1/4 cup coarsely minced garlic
3 large onions, sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
6 whole cloves
5 sprigs fresh thyme
2 whole chipotle chiles in adobo
1 tablespoon sea salt, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon fine black pepper, freshly ground

Pour the red wine into a large pot, bring to a boil, and boil fast until reduced by half, to 2 quarts. I stick a wooden spoon in the wine while it’s heating, mark the level with a pencil, and then can measure roughly when it’s reduced by half. While it reduces, heat the oil in a large skillet and saute the onions. When they turn translucent, add the agrlic and saute until the garlic is somewhat cooked but don’t let it color. Grate the zest off the lemon, squeeze the juice out, and discard the pith. Pat the anchovies (as a mass, not one by one) with a paper towel to get any excessive oil off them. Use a large mortar and pestle to break up the dried shitake mushrooms into chunks about half an inch across.
When the wine is reduced by half, add the sauteed onion mixture, the anchovies, the broken shitake mushrooms, the chile, the lemon zest and juice, the horseradish, the agave nectar, the salt, and the thyme and cloves. Simmer over low heat for about 2 and a half hours, stirring and tasting periodically.When it’s slightly thickened and tastes right (by which I mean “tastes really good,” strain out the solids, pressing as hard as you can on the mass in the strainer to get out all the liquid. Add the fresh black pepper to the strained fluid, starting with about half the tablespoon and tasting as you add until you find the amount that you like. I don’t like it too sweet, but if you want yours sweeter, add a little more agave nectar. Pour the sauce into clean old wine bottles, cork tightly, and store in the refrigerator. It won’t keep at room temp unless you heat=process it in canning jars, which I think is too much trouble. I have sometimes made a hasty meal of cooked rice or grains from the refrigerator, heated quickly and dressed with a little butter and a few dashes of this sauce. Yum.
If you find that you want it a little more sharp, you can boil the wine down to 1.5 quarts and add two cups of best quality red wine vinegar, then continue as above.