Sometimes, the only thing you really need to make an everyday meal interesting is a sauce. I’ve recently leared that a reduction is a fancy word for cooking down a liquid to condense flavors. This makes my life more interesting, as it gives me more confidence to try creating my own – no doubt you’ll hear about the good ones.
The start to my adventures into this realm began with the Joy of Cooking. Tell me, who’s surprised? Yeah, me neither. I was looking through for ways to make ham more interesting, and stumbled upon this gem. It reminded me of a sauce served with Christmas dinner at my Great-Grandma’s every year, although the only thing they have in common is the raisins. It seemed simple, and I had most of the needed ingredients, choosing to simply omit the one I didn’t have. I love it when a recipe doesn’t involve special ingredients, when I could just whip it up on the spot if I wanted. It’s hard not to make something that’s already in my pantry.
English Cumberland Sauce (from The Joy of Cooking)
- 1 1/2 C dry red wine
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp. Dry mustard
- 1/4 tsp. Ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp. Salt
- 1/4 tsp. Ground cloves
- pinch of pepper
- 1/2 C raisins
- 2 tsp. Corn starch
- 2 Tbsp. Water
- 1/4 C oragne juice
- 2 Tbsp. Lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp. Orange liquor (like Triple Sec or Grand Marnier)
In a small sauce pan, combine dry red wine, brown sugar, dry mustard, ground ginger, salt, cloves, pepper and raisins. Over medium high heat, stir until dissolved as you bring it to a boil, let boil 2 minutes. After the two minutes are up, reduce to medium heat, cover, and let cook for 6 more minutes.
After the 6 minutes, dissolve the cornstarch in the water, and add to the sauce pan, and simmer for two minutes. Then add the orange juice, lemon juice, and orange liquor. Best served over pork.
I love fish, although I don’t make it often. It doesn’t make sense for me to make a meal when only one of us is going to eat it. But occasionally I get to cook it, so when I do, I like to do something special with it. It’s like a little every day special occasion, a little “just because” into the ordinary. There are plenty of ways to dress up fish, in ways you can’t do with most land animals. This glaze-marinade combination is a one-two flavor punch of tangy and sweet. I really enjoyed this dish, and I hope you do, too.
Toasted Sesame Ginger Salmon (on howsweeteats.com)
- 1 1/2 lbs. Salmon
- 1/4 C olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. Toasted sesame oil
- 2 Tbsp. Rice vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. Brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp. Soy sauce
- 2 Garlic cloves, grated
- 1 Tbsp. Grated ginger
- 1-2 Tbsp. Toasted sesame seeds
- 4 green onions, sliced
- 1/4 C honey
- 1 tsp. Soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp. Freshly grated ginger
- 1/2 tsp. Toasted sesame seeds
In a large bowl or baking dish, whisk together marinade ingredients until combined. Add salmon, and refridgerate to marinate for 30 minutes to an hour.
While your broiler preheats, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack, coated with nonstick spray. Pull salmon from the marinade and place on the rack. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then place directly under broiler. Cook for 10-12 minutes, until opaque and easily flakable with fork. Flip the salmon halfway through cooking if desired, though I didn’t find this necessary.
While the fish broils, whisk together glaze ingredients in a small bowl. When the fish is cooked, sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds, green onions, and pour on glaze.
Since Mardi Gras was a couple days ago, I only felt it fitting to fix this amazingly simple Bourbon Street Chicken. It takes a little time for the sauce to thicken, but a four-step chicken dinner is always welcome here. I would venture to think this recipe is easily adaptable to a slow cooker, which would only make things even easier. This is a great meal for multitasking; the chicken doesn’t need much attention once the simmer begins, and the length of time needed for the simmer allows all the time you need to make your sides. I will warn, this is a spicy dish, so if you don’t like a lot of heat, take out the siracha and replace it with an extra half-tablespoon of ketchup. With so much food and so many recipes to try, we rarely repeat a dinner, but my husband asked that we make this again fairly soon.
Bourbon Street Chicken (from bigoven.com)
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1/4 tsp. Ground ginger
- 3/4 tsp. Crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 C apple juice
- 1 tsp. Siracha
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. Ketchup
- 1 Tbsp. Apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 C water
- 1/3 C soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
Brown the chicken, in a large skillet, then remove.
Add remaining ingredients over medium heat until blended and dissolved. Add chicken back into skillet, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve over rice.
Tip of the week: When substituting ground and fresh ginger, ground is much more potent than fresh. You only need about 1/4 teaspoon for every teaspoon of fresh.