Starter Sauces

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by Vic Clinco

Have you noticed the pub scene raising the bar specifically in the terms of their appetizers? Whether it was the chicken-or-the-egg theory with the small independents expanding their selections and coming up with outrageous dishes, or the big chains putting a large emphasis on the finger-food category, we, the consumer—and I mean that in terms of actually consuming the delicious fare—win.

I’ve said it a thousand times, that a good sauce can make almost anything taste better, and that couldn’t be more true when it comes to appetizers. But what makes a good sauce? Well, what makes a good wine? I was taught that a good wine is one you like, so I also look at sauces the same way.

Here’s a simple recipe to follow when making a sauce: one part good ingredients plus one part passion. Pour your heart into it, and you can’t go wrong. But if it’s a new recipe to you, follow it to a T the first time. Taste it, analyze it, then come back and add your personal touch. You might like it sweeter or just the opposite, or you might want it to be spicier or milder. Whatever the case, make it your own. Share it with friends and family, and most of all, enjoy it.

The following dishes are family recipes that I’ve been inspired to tweak based on great chefs in some restaurants I’ve eaten at and things that I simply enjoy. Ultimately, I cherish the opportunity to pass them along to you—aw! I am such a giver.

Guac-and-Elote


Chucky Guacamole

A friend of mine, Cindy, gave me this recipe that has been handed down for generations in her family. Cindy’s childhood nickname was Chucky, the namesake for this delicious guacamole variation. The perfect addition to nachos, this guac is also amazing in street tacos.

Yield 8 servings
Zest Factor Mild
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes

1 Hatch or Anaheim pepper
2 Jalapeños (preferably red in color)
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
5 avocados, diced
1 (16-ounce) container cottage cheese
1 Small red onion, diced
1 Lime, zested and juiced
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro plus more for garnish
½ teaspoon ground Cumin
½ teaspoon Garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon crumbled Queso Fresco for garnish
cilantro for garnish

1. Preheat the grill to high or oven to 450°F.
2. Roast the peppers evenly on all sides until charred or blistered, about 8–10 minutes in the oven, or for slightly less time over the flames of the grill.
3. Place the peppers in a resealable bag and cool for at least 20 minutes. Remove the peppers from the bag and scrape off the blistered skin. Slice the peppers in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Dice and set aside.
4. In a bowl, fold together all the ingredients except for the queso fresco and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper and mix well, until you’ve achieved your desired texture.
5. Serve immediately, garnished with crumbled queso freso and cilantro.


Fiery Queso Y Elote

Inspired by elote in a cup, this cheesy dip has layers of flavor with a cool, limey, zingy finish that is sure to be a hit. Try it with some homemade tortilla chips, layer it on tostadas, spoon it over a baked potato or plunge some taquitos in it. It’s amazing.

Yield 8 servings
Zest Factor Medium
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes

2 Hatch or Anaheim peppers
1 (12-ounce) package sweet corn niblets or kernels
1 cup Crema
½ cup crumbled Queso Fresco plus more for garnish
¼ cup Parmesan
2 heaping tablespoons Mayonnaise
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon of your favorite Mexican-style hot sauce (Tapatio, Cholula, Búfalo, valentina)
1 Lime, zested and juiced
2 teaspoons Chile powder
2 teaspoons ground Cumin
1 teaspoon Red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon Sugar
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the grill to high or oven to 450°F.
2. Roast the peppers evenly on all sides until charred or blistered, about 8–10 minutes in the oven, or for slightly less time over the flames of the grill. Place the peppers in a resealable bag and cool for at least 20 minutes. Remove the peppers from the bag and scrape off the blistered skin. Slice the peppers in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Dice and set aside.
3. In a cast-iron skillet over medium-high, roast the corn until evenly browned, about 10–12 minutes. Do not blacken or overcook. Remove from the heat and set aside.
4. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender, reserving roughly 1⁄3 cup corn. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Fold in the reserved corn.
5. Serve garnished with crumbled queso fresco and cilantro.


Get more recipes like this in our August 2016 issue, available on newsstands and through Magzter now!

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