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Barbeque Sauce, Parmesan Cream, and Mushroom Sauce

Three Sauces for Barbeques and Throughout the Year

by Maurice Alexander

Image courtesy of Fabrice Adjanor on Unsplash

July is hallmarked with garden parties with food served hot off the grill of a barbeque and not just for me but evidently for most, seeing the number of people arriving at the homes of neighbours, the sound of laughter and good times being heard from at a distance and the characteristic smell of burning charcoal in hanging thickly in the air. Now, I won’t be explaining all the different cuts of meat and ways to prepare them to be set over hot coals as this article would never end. In the past, hamburgers were often the only dish served at a barbeque but now with the recent outpouring of culinary interest from the public, there’s a demand for grilling all types of meat, from cuts of chicken, shanks of lamb, shoulders of pork and the pink, curved prawns. Yes, detailing all the things one could possibly prepare for a barbeque garden party would be much too long, so I’ve decided to provide three recipes for sauces that compliment anything one could serve up on those sun kissed, alcohol-laced Summer barbeque parties.

Barbeque Sauce

The bottle barbeque sauce that we’re all familiar has no heat and a weak punch of flavour, especially when compared to this homemade heavyweight. This recipe uses a variety of warming spices and unexpected liquid ingredients such as apple cider vinegar and strong black coffee to create a glossy, thick sauce with a nuanced complexity that finished with an explosion of heat and tang- truly a staple for any barbeque! It can be spread on the top of hamburger patties, used as an spiced dip for freshly fried chips and slathered over the carcass to imbue its flesh with a mix of intense flavours whilst it hangs in the cloudy atmosphere of a smoker.

2 tablespoons of flavourless oil (vegetable, sunflower or groundnut)

One finely chopped white onion

2 crushed garlic cloves

2 teaspoons of smoked paprika

1 teaspoon of chilli powder

1 teaspoon of ground cumin

250ml of strong black coffee

125ml of apple cider vinegar

125ml of tomato sauce or passata

4 tablespoons of tomato puree

100g of light brown sugar

2 tablespoon of dark soy sauce

Before chopping or measuring any of the other ingredients, you must prepare the black coffee to streamline the making of the sauce. It takes 5 to 10 minutes for the freshly ground coffee beans to infuse the water whilst they both sit in the cafetiere and allowing this to occur before anything else means you avoid having everything come to a halt whilst you wait for the coffee to infuse.

Over a low heat, gently fry the onion and the garlic cloves in the oil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Crushing a garlic clove is done by placing a peeled clove beneath a knife and pressing onto it a weight to make it break. Ensure that you do this step and avoid the temptation to throw everything into the saucepan all at once. The frying removes a substantial amount of the water content within the garlic and onion which strengthens their flavour so that they can stand side by side with the other bold flavours of the sauce. Once soft and translucent, add the spices to awaken their flavours over the heat and stir the contents of the saucepan frequently for 2 minutes.

Once the spices scent the air of the kitchen, pour in all of the liquid ingredients and stir in the brown sugar. Light brown sugar has a deeper molasses flavour than plain white sugar, which is just sweetness and the dark soy sauce is preferred over light soy sauce as it as a stronger salted taste to it. Allow the mix to simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes and you should have an emulsion resembling dark, bubbling magma that is the perfect compliment to chips and barbecue meats. This recipe is generous but is the perfect volume for barbeque garden parties where everyone will be wanting to try the most flavoursome sauce there!

Parmesan Cream

This sauce has an entirely different flavour profile from the previous; rich, gentle and comforting. It is the perfect condiment for those that want a break from powerful spice and burning heat and has great versatility as a dip for chips, a sauce for hamburgers, barbequed chicken and breaded chicken fillets.

500ml double cream

300g finely grated parmesan cheese

Finely ground white pepper

A handful of finely chopped curly parsley

Pour the double cream into a medium saucepan simmer on a low flame until reduced by half in volume. The time for this varies depending on the strength of the flame and the size of the saucepan used, but it is necessary step in thickening the texture of the sauce through removing half of its water content.

Once reduced, whisk in the grated parmesan a handful of a time. You must have patience and halt on further additions of the cheese because if it is added all at once, the cheese and the cream will separate, ruining the sauce. Fully incorporated, the melted parmesan melds with the thicken cream to emulsify the sauce, giving it a consistency similar to mayonnaise. Parmesan sauce is used here because it has a salty-sweet, nutty taste. Cheese is an incredibly complex product that all have their own complex flavour profile, so please don’t think you can swap it out for cheddar.

Remove the sauce from the heat and taste with a teaspoon. Add the white pepper a pinch at a time before repeated tastings until the flavour is right. White pepper is used here because its much more subtle and gentle on the palette than black pepper, which can be considered quite harsh when you’re creating a dish that’s attempting to foster notion of comfort.

Finally, stir in a small handful of finely chopped curly parsley. Curly parsley is used over flat leaf parsley for the same reason why white pepper is preferred over black pepper; it has a more subtle flavour. Curly parsley lightens any sauce and this is especially welcomed in indulgent sauces like this one. Also, a pale golden sauce flecked with the green has great aesthetic appeal.

Again, this recipe is for a generous portion fit for barbeques and garden parties. Serve warm in a small soup tureen or a warm bowl.

Mushroom Sauce

There is nothing more satiating than smoked pulled pork drenched in a luxuriously thick, flavoursome mushroom sauce. The following recipe is for such a sauce and can be paired more than pulled pork like chops, barbequed whole chicken, lamb shanks, pork chops, hamburgers and more. This mushroom sauce is especially decadent with the inclusion of porcini mushrooms and dry white wine and is wholly worth the investment. A true crowd pleaser that will guarantee your invitation for the next barbecue, but you’ll find yourself making this sauce all seasons of the year.

1 tablespoon of unsalted butter

2 crushed garlic cloves

2 finely sliced round shallots OR 1 banana shallot OR 1 small white onion

Half a teaspoon of thyme

300g sliced mushrooms (typically 150g chestnut mushrooms and 150g wild mushrooms)

2 teaspoons of dried porcini mushrooms rehydrated in a splash of hot water

150ml dry white wine

200ml chicken stock

300ml double cream

A squeeze of lemon juice

Salt and White pepper

Porcini mushrooms are incredibly expensive but have a delightful flavour and an otherworldly quality of making all the other ingredients respond to the call of the wild and sing with woodland flavours. With this in mind, the porcini steps in this recipe are entirely optional but strongly recommended. They are often sold dried and can be obtained on request to your local greengrocer or on the shelf at an upmarket supermarket or can be found fresh at market stalls when in season (September to November then March to April) and should just be included amongst the 300g of mushroom this recipe calls for.

Before doing anything else, place the dried porcini mushrooms into a small bowl with a splash of hot water fresh from the kettle and leave them to bathe for several minutes. This will allow the porcini to rehydrate and infuse the water with their sought-after flavour.

Whilst the porcinis are bathe, melt the tablespoon of butter in a frying pan and sauté the mushrooms on a medium-high heat until all of their natural moisture has evaporated from the pan. You’ll find that the mushrooms release quite an amount of water but persevere and it will all boil away with the heat of the pan. Remove the mushrooms from the frying pan and place them into a dish for addition to the sauce at a later stage. This process intensifies the flavour of the mushrooms and is the one stage that gifts the sauce with its blessed taste of the woodland. I cut the mushrooms quite thickly as they shrink with the loss of their moisture content and to maximise their aesthetics, look at the mushroom you have and slice it taking account of its length and shape. Its visually pleasing for people to peer into the saucepan and identify the mushroom varieties used in the sauce with the outline of its shape.

In the same frying pan, add another teaspoon of unsalted butter and gently fry the shallots and garlic cloves for 10 minutes. Shallots belong to the same family as onions, but have a sweeter, more gentle onion taste. The round varieties can be difficult to obtain in supermarkets, but a greengrocer can get anything for you if you were to ask but if you’re in a rush you can use a finely chopped, very small white onion. Stir the contents of the pan occasionally until softened and fragrant.

Tip in the half-teaspoon of thyme and pour in the wine, reducing by two thirds, done by turning up the heat to a roaring boil and waiting patiently until the alcohol evaporates. Once this has been done, pour in the chicken stock and reduce the volume by two thirds again through boiling rapidly.

Stir in the cream, it adds body to the sauce, thickening it substantially, and lesser the intensity of its flavour. Fold in the mushrooms and the porcini mushrooms and their bathing liquid. Taste, and correct with the use of finely ground salt and white pepper. Serve warm.


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