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Notes from the Test Kitchen
Let’s Get Saucy
January 19, 2018
Let’s Get Saucy
There are few things that can transform a dish from simple to spectacular as quickly and easily as a great sauce. When roasting chicken, you can make an exceptional pan sauce from the drippings, as in our Cast Iron Classic Roast Chicken with Lemon-Thyme Pan Sauce. You can turn to your food processor and make a quick pesto to serve over pasta (check out our Penne with Red Pepper Pesto recipe for a twist on the classic version). For dessert, make a decadent, warm chocolate sauce and dip in homemade So-Cal Churros. Sauces can turn any home-cooked meal into something special, and that’s why we’ve created our newest cookbook, Just Add Sauce. We make restaurant-quality sauces accessible for every home cook, and we teach you how to store sauce, pair foods with sauce, and plate your meal just like the pros.
Cast Iron Classic Roast Chicken with Lemon-Thyme Pan Sauce
Cast Iron Classic Roast Chicken with Lemon-Thyme Pan Sauce
In this recipe, we use the cooking method in our Weeknight Roast Chicken recipe and adapt it for the cast-iron skillet. A traditional pan sauce pairing lemon and thyme is the perfect complement, and it takes just minutes to make while the chicken rests. Pan drippings contribute meatiness, and finishing the sauce with butter gives it the perfect velvety texture.
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Penne with Red Pepper Pesto (Pesto Calabrese)
Penne with Red Pepper Pesto (Pesto Calabrese)
Pesto alla calabrese trades the familiar basil–pine nut base of the Genovese style for ricotta, Parmesan, and a combination of sweet and hot peppers. For complex flavor, we use cooked red bell peppers, sautéing them—first covered to soften and then uncovered to develop flavorful browning—and then add one raw red bell pepper for fresh, fruity bite. For heat, we substitute dried red pepper flakes for hard-to-find Calabrian chiles. We also add fresh tomato, onion, garlic, and basil to the pepper mixture for further complexity. A modest amount of cheese—a 2:1 ratio of ricotta to Parmesan—adds richness, salty tang, and creamy body without dulling the vegetables’ flavors.
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So-Cal Churros with Chocolate Sauce
So-Cal Churros with Chocolate Sauce
These fluted, fried pastries should be crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, much like a cream puff. Many recipes call for piping the dough directly into a vat of hot oil, but we found this process to be not only hectic but also dangerous—splashing oil made a mess of the stovetop and threatened to burn our hands and forearms. Instead, we pipe dough logs onto a rimmed baking sheet and slip them into the frying oil in batches to minimize the splashing. Piping while the dough is still warm helps get the stiff dough through the small opening in our pastry bag without a fight. The chocolate sauce comes together easily in the microwave with heavy cream, semisweet chocolate chips, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt.
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175 Modern Sauces + 100 Easy Dinners
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Recommended Equipment for These Recipes
Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12-inch
Browning: ★★★    Sticking: ★★★    Durability: ★★★    Ease of Use: ★★★   
You won’t ever have to be afraid of making acidic pan sauces in our favorite cast-iron skillet from Lodge. Because of this pan’s thorough seasoning, sauces don’t pick up any off-flavors from the iron. The pan also has a helper handle that makes lifting a whole chicken out of the oven easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. Learn More →
buy now
Cuisinart Custom 14 Food Processor
Mixing: ★★★    Slicing: ★★★    Chopping: ★★★    Pureeing: ★★★    Shredding: ★★★    Ease of Use: ★★★   
A food processor is ideal for creating coarser-textured sauces and makes quick work of otherwise labor-intensive tasks such as chopping vegetables or grinding nuts. With a powerful, quiet motor; responsive pulsing action; sharp blades; and a simple, pared-down-to-basics design, this model from Cuisinart outshines pricier, more feature-filled competitors. Learn More →
buy now
Pyrex Smart Essentials Mixing Bowl Set with Colored Lids
Durability: ★★★    Ease of Use: ★★★    Performance: ★★★   
Many sauces just need to be stirred together or placed in the microwave and then stirred in a good bowl. A bowl should be so steady, durable, and comfortable to handle that it goes almost unnoticed while you work. We love these glass bowls from Pyrex that are microwave-safe and have shallow, gently curved walls with easy-to-grip rims. Notably, they do not break when dropped, and they come with tight-fitting lids to store extra sauce safely. Learn More →
buy now
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