Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Make-Ahead Sauce Solution

What's one of the major differences between restaurant meals and the meals your mom or grandma served?

Okay, maybe your mom or grandma didn't cook like mine did, but mostly it was meat, potato, and one or two vegetables. If there was something like turkey for a holiday, there was gravy. but mostly it was three things with no gravy or sauce or condiments (well, except we had ketchup with meatloaf).

But if you go to a restaurant, there's a pretty good chance that you won't get a plate that doesn't include some kind of sauce, chutney or other flavorful element, even if it's something that's smeared or drizzled artistically over the plate.

I love sauces. I really do. But they seem like they can take more time than the rest of the meal. They seem complicated. They seem like ... not something I'm going to make on the average weeknight. I mean, yeah, I'll pull out the bottle of ketchup for meatloaf, or I'll make a simple tartar sauce for fish. But that's about where I stop unless I'm making something that creates its own sauce. Like when I braise stuff.

So, when The Make-Ahead Sauce Solution by Elizabeth Bailey landed with a light thunk on my doorstep (free to me), I was intrigued. The general idea is that these are sauces that you make ahead and then freeze for later use. Like, you could have a sauce-making day and be set for a month. Or you could make a batch that goes with dinner, then freeze the rest for later meals.

These sauces (61 of them) aren't necessarily designed to go with particular meals. Instead, there are suggestions on how much sauce you should use for different dishes. For example, the Chorizo Garlic sauce would use 2 cups of sauce per pound of pasta; 1 cup of sauce per baked potato; 1/2 cup of sauce per cup of cooked rice, or 1/2 cup of sauce per sandwich. Serving instructions are also included, like you'd spoon the sauce over your rice, then top with grated cheddar cheese. For a sandwich, you'd use it like a sloppy joe, along with cheese.

Then again, you could go completely off the rails and use your sauce any way you want to. A couple spoons of chorizo garlic sauce could be awesome on a chicken taco, when you're dealing with leftover rotisserie chicken.

Then we have the Vodka Cream Sauce that should be slathered over, or smeared under, pretty much everything, from pasta to shrimp to chicken to pizza.

I wasn't sure about this book before I arrived, but I have to say that's it's giving me inspiration. I can see making a few of these, freezing them in small hockey puck sizes, then using them during those weeks when I cook a bunch of chicken thighs to save dinner prep time. Then I could pick a different sauce every night when I heat up my leftovers. It's kind of genius, really.

Needless to say, larger families would plow through much more sauce than me, but that's kind of the beauty of the concept. You freeze in quantities you're going to use. Or, if you freeze flat in zipper bags, you can break off chunks. One caveat. It's probably a good idea to label all the bags, lest you mistake barbecue for mole or curry for dijonnaise.

Did you miss the part about me getting the book for free. Yeah, that happened.

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