by: Scott Leysath – The Sporting Chef
I decided long ago that most home cooks just don’t have the time or the inclination to take the long route to preparing a recipe when a shortcut will get you home, or at least close enough to impress most people. That’s not to say that taking the time to make a great homemade barbecue sauce or stock isn’t worth the trouble, but when you’re out of the good stuff, a bottle or can can be doctored up with just a pinch of this and a splash of that to make the finished sauce taste like you made it from scratch.
When it comes to buying prepared sauces, I like to visit Asian markets for some out-of-the ordinary flavors. One of my favorites is eel sauce. I know some folks are going to wince when they read “eel sauce”, but it’s actually a mild soy-based sauce that’s just a tad sweet, not too salty and great with game. It’s made from grilled eel bones, which is one ingredient I’m usually a little short on, so it’s hard to make it at home. When you find a bottle of Asian sauce that gets your attention, I suggest you compare brands by their sodium content. Some of them are way too salty for me. A drizzle of eel sauce over a smoky, grilled duck breast is especially delicious. Trust me.
Here are a few of my favorite quick sauces and marinades that will save you time in the kitchen and get you back outside where you belong. The measurements listed should be used as a place to start and not meant to be exact. Think of these shortcuts as an outline from which to create your own signature culinary creations. Taste as you go and adjust at the end. All of the recipes can be used with waterfowl, antlered game, and domestic meats.
Sweet-Hot Marinade and Sauce
Prepare a double batch and store in the refrigerator for two to three weeks.
If desired, you can double the recipe below and store the extra sauce in the refrigerator for two to three weeks.
Makes 1 ½ cups
1 1/4 cups Italian dressing
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (or substitute 1 – 2 teaspoon red pepper flakes)
2 garlic cloves, minced
Combine all ingredients and whisk together or shake vigorously in a tight-fitting jar. Pour over meat, toss to coat and refrigerate for 2 – 6 hours. Drizzle additional sauce over meat just before serving.
Okay, so you might have to plan ahead a little on this one. Start with a cheap bottle of balsamic vinegar (16 – 18 ounces, about $4/bottle), and reduce it to intensify the natural sweetness and oaky flavor. Makes about 2/3 cup
1 bottle balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon Tabasco Chipotle Pepper Sauce
Add ingredients to a medium saucepan over medium heat, uncovered. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until liquid has reduced by approximately two-thirds. Allow to cool and thicken. Drizzle a thin stream over cooked meats or salmon, but don’t smother it. Store in the refrigerator for several weeks.
Orange-Ginger Sauce and Marinade
It’s a little bit Asian and a lot of flavor.
Makes 1 cup
2/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate
2 green onions, minced
1 tablespoon pickled ginger, minced
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Combine ingredients in a small saucepan and heat to warm, but do not bring to a boil. Simmer for a few minutes and allow to cool. Be careful when using as a marinade since the sugary orange juice concentrate will burn easily. To avoid burning, pat dry after marinating and drizzle additional sauce over when served.
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