In my opinion, the only thing that separates everyday cooking from epicurean restaurant fare is the layering of flavors. That is to say, that the mouth-watering, sense-inspiring mystery of a well prepared dish is that it includes many, many flavors added bit by bit to create an entirely new flavor.
In high cuisine those flavors are produced by reducing, concentrating, searing and layering flavor on top of flavor. When I don’t want to spend the time being chefy, I prepare meals using already reduced, already concentrated everyday condiments from my refrigerator door & spice stash to make outstanding restaurant-style dishes.
Here are a few combinations to get your creative juices going…
yellow mustard, tarragon, broth or white wine.
After browning and cooking till done your chicken pieces, fish or seared vegetables, remove them from the pan. To the remaining browned bits in the butter/oil per your recipe that you cooked them in, add 1-2T bottled yellow mustard, 1 tsp crumbled tarragon leaves and 1 cup broth (from concentrate made with water or from box/can) OR 1 cup white wine, stirring and scraping to loosen up the bits. Simmer this, adding a few tablespoons of butter in the end, until it is reduced to a thickened sauce. Add the browned chicken/fish/veggies back in the pan continuing to simmer, turning the pieces over until each side is coated. A small amount of sauce will remain. Spoon this over the pieces after plating.
grainy mustard, granulated onion, cinnamon, apple cider
After browning and cooking through chicken pieces, pork chops, pork medallions or roasted root vegetables & winter squash, remove them from their pan. To the remaining browned bits in the butter/oil per your recipe that you cooked them in, add 1-2T grainy mustard, 1/2 tsp granulated onion, 1/8 tsp cinnamon and 1 cup apple cider, stirring and scraping to loosen up the bits. Simmer this, adding a splash of cream if desired in the end, until it is reduced to a thickened sauce. NOTE: if you roasted vegetables, place the roasting pan on a burner to finish the sauce in. Add the browned chicken, pork or veggies back in their cooking pan continuing to simmer, turning the pieces over until each side is coated. A small amount of sauce will remain. Spoon this over the pieces after plating.
jam, ketchup, smoked paprika, onion, garlic
Make your own bar-b-que sauce to serve as a dipping sauce or to glaze any meat, sausages or vegetables. I make this to use up the last bits of jam hanging around the frig. In a sauce pan mix equal parts fruit jam (any kind or combination of any) and ketchup and bring to a simmer. Add 1/2 tsp each granulated garlic and granulated onion per cup of mixture and a generous amount of smoked paprika to taste. Simmer a few minutes until flavor is melded, adding water if needed to make your desired consistency. I also add liquid smoke because I keep it on hand but the recipe works great without it.
salsa, cumin, oregano, garlic, black pepper, red wine
This is a great way to use up the last of the jar or tub salsa. Make this to pour over roasted meats or to mix into browned ground beef/turkey/tofu/vegetable protein. In a separate sauce pan, dump the salsa and add red wine to equal 2 cups. Simmer until sauce is reduced by half. Add 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp granulated garlic, 1 tsp crumbled leaves of oregano and several grounds of black pepper and salt to taste.