chick sauce1
Thick and redolent of mint and spice, this concoction can marinate meat, flavor soups and stews and adorn crusty bread.

“Don’t you think you should put your phone away?”

The little boy is sitting on his bed. There’s a Nintendo DS on his left side; a book on his right; a Droid in his hands. He’s texting madly and glances up for a mere second.

“No,” he says. “This is helping me multi-task.”

I have to laugh. Because I get it. He learned the fine art of juggling to-dos and want-to-dos from his father and me.

I am the queen of multi-tasking — particularly in the kitchen. Doing three (or four or five) things at once is the difference between survival and madness in a business where I have to make five full dinners in a matter of hours. It’s the secret to serving dinner at home when we schedule eating (and cooking!) between meetings and lessons and basketball practices.

Still, I don’t want to do all the juggling. I like to have a few recipes in my pocket that can do double- or triple-menu duty.

That’s why I love this jewel. Its intended purpose (as per a 1992 issue of Bon Appetit magazine) is as a marinade for leg of lamb. But with a little imagination, it’s so much more.

The adapted recipe is ultra simple and takes just minutes to make. In a food processor, whir together:

  • Half a red onion (chopped into 2-inch chunks)
  • 6 peeled cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons  paprika (the sweet Hungarian kind, naturally!)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

The resulting sauce (vegetarian and gluten-free) is thick, rust red, smoky and bracingly tangy. It’s also infinitely adaptable:

  • The marinade clings to each chicken piece and roasts to a burnished orange-brown.
    The marinade clings to each chicken piece and roasts to a burnished orange-brown.

    Slather it on bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts and marinate overnight. Preheat your oven to 475 degrees (yes, 475) and roast on an oiled baking sheet (or oiled foil for easy cleanup) for 30 minutes.

  • Toss with chunky pasta like cavatelli.
  • Stir into a vegetable soup or substitute for tomato sauce when making chili.
  • Use as a sauce for thick fillets of salmon or swordfish.
  • It makes a simple, delicious lunch when slathered on toasted bread and topped with feta cheese.
    It makes a simple, delicious lunch when slathered on toasted bread and topped with feta cheese.

    Spread on toasted bread and top with goat or feta cheese.

I like to double this and freeze the extra in two or three small containers. That way it’s always waiting for me when dinnertime comes calling.

The little boy has lost his phone. Turns out, not all things (like texting and morning showers) can be multi-tasked. But regardless of what he has to do after school today, I know some variation of dinner is just a freezer container away.

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