DO Get Saucy With Me…

I am always throwing things in my food processor and playing around. In culinary school I developed a love or rather obsession with sauces. Now I’ve always been a condiments kind-of-girl: once upon a time I could even make a meal out of them (a rather appalling part of my childhood). So the sauce kick was not a huge surprise. Plus, I like the challenge… the pressure…

Because in a great dish everything rides on that sauce being “bangin.”

A la Nap

Whether it’s a reduction, a glaze, a puree or an oil, a sauce not only adds color and movement to a plate’s appearance, but it brings an otherwise flat flavored dish to life.

I’ll never forget in my iron-chef-style final exam at Le Cordon Bleu it was the sauce that saved my you know what. I’m pretty sure that the rest of my dish was mediocre, but when the sauce went on that plate it hugged and coated every component, melting into each imperfection and making it shine, unblemished.

So yes, a sauce can be your cloak of invisibility– it can be your Super-Human Foundation. So don’t shy away from it! If your sauce is a standout it will make everything else on the plate seem spectacular too.

And this week my Red Pepper Coconut Sauce smoothed out all the rough and wrinkled edges of my casual cooking.

This sauce is loaded with warmth and heat: the carrots and curry add roundness, where the coconut and chicken stock bring richness.

When building a sauce you really want to think about striking a balance in one bite! You want to taste bright and fresh, and feel rich and developed, and this Red Pepper Sauce does just that…

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
8 roasted red peppers (from a jar or roast your own, peel off skin)
12 roasted baby carrots, 1/2 roasted leek (or 4 chopped and roasted full size carrots)
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 cup chicken stock
12 tablespoons organic coconut milk
a few dashs of red wine vinegar
salt and pepper

3. Roast leek and carrots in olive oil, salt and pepper in a roasting pan for about 30 min
4. Process peppers, carrots and leek, curry powder in the bowl of a food processor until very smooth. Pour into a saucepan and heat gently. Add chicken stock and cook stirring for 2-3 minutes. Add the coconut milk and season to taste. This should be a thick slightly chunky sauce. Reserve keeping warm until service or keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

*Double the Red Pepper Sauce recipe when you make it- trust me! It becomes a luscious pasta or pizza sauce in seconds, and is easily freezable.

Now what?

Grab that sauce and come cool down! Chill out with your favorite couple with this easy and effortless light main…

Cilantro Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper Coconut Sauce
Serves 4

4 organic boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 tablespoons pesto *
2 bunches Cilantro (divide into 8 equal parts)
salt and pepper

1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock

6 tablespoons of Roasted Red Pepper Sauce recipe above

24 oz (680g) red fingerling potatoes, quartered
olive oil
salt and pepper

1 green apple, julienned

*you can use your favorite pesto brand or pulse equal amounts pine nuts, parmesan, basil, cilantro, 1 garlic clove, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper in processor. Add oil to reach desired consistency.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F

1. Prep the potatoes: Scrub and quarter, and place potatoes in a roasting pan. Coat in olive oil and ample salt and pepper. Bake in oven for about 35 minutes, turning potatoes at 20 minutes so they don’t burn.
2. To prep the chicken: make an incision through the side of each breast to create a pocket. Fill each breast with the tablespoon of pesto and an small bunch of cilantro leaves. Close and secure with a toothpick.

3. Place chicken in a roasting pan brushed with oil. Add white wine and chicken stock to the pan to insure that the chicken does not dry out.
4. Bake chicken for 19-20 minutes so that juices run dry, but do not over cook as it will dry out very quickly.
5. Plate chicken on top of a line of potatoes and sprinkle with a little olive oil and a few sea salt flakes. Garnish with julienned apples and a large bunch of cilantro. Gently warm the Roasted Red Pepper Sauce on the stove and plate a heaping tablespoon alongside the chicken.

Eating light tonight never tasted so right…

Darcy Jones

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