Genuine Jerk Chicken

If you’re thinking Caribbean and spicy, then truth be told, you’re thinking about Jamaican jerk seasoning. While probably every island claims some variation on the theme, this is arguably the root of that wonderful recipe tree. The combination of chile heat, with a spice mélange often only associated with deserts makes for an unforgettable taste treat.

There are dry and wet variants of the style; the wet marinades and an oven bake, like the one we’ll do here, add a greater depth of flavor to your dish. Dry rubs are great too, and especially lend themselves well to grilling. You can use either variety on chicken, beef, pork and fish. For my mind, chicken is the quintessential jerk dish, so that’s what we’ll do here.

Though it may seem like there are a lot of ingredients, don’t get intimidated; this is a pretty fast process and well worth the effort. You should plan on allowing at least 3 hours for marinating, though you certainly can let things sit overnight and should whenever you have the chance.

Note the great range of potential heat indicated in the recipe – I think you need at least two habaneros to get the heart correct for this stuff, but some folks like or require far more to float their boat. If you’re a neophyte, start conservative – While habaneros aren’t the hottest thing out there, they’re plenty potent enough to really sear you if you’re not ready to handle them.

Jenuine Jamaican Jerk Chicken

+/- 3 pound whole chicken
2 Fresh Limes
3-6 Fresh Green Onions, rough chopped
2-4 cloves Fresh Garlic, rough chopped
2-? Fresh Habanero Chiles, rough chopped
¼ Cup Malt Vinegar
¼ Cup Dark Rum
1 Tablespoon Allspice
1 teaspoon Black Pepper
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Ginger
1 teaspoon Nutmeg
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 teaspoon dark brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon Thyme
½ Cup Tomato Ketchup
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce

Add rum and a couple of tablespoons of water to a sauté pan over medium-high heat and simmer until the alcohol is burned off.

If any of your spices are whole, combine them and run them through a spice grinder until evenly blended.

Pour rum into a blender along with the vinegar, onions, garlic, habaneras, allspice, pepper, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt, sugar, and thyme. Squeeze the juice from both limes in as well.

Blend thoroughly until you have a nice, smooth consistency.

Take 2 Tablespoons of the seasoning blend and transfer to a small glass bowl. Add the ketchup and soy sauce and blend thoroughly. Cover and set aside until you’re ready to serve.

Cut up chickens into appropriate cooking size, (Quarters or better as you please).

Place chicken in a glass dish or bowl, (Gallon ziplocks will do if you don’t have a decent sized glass dish), and pour the jerk marinade in. Thoroughly coat the chicken on all sides with the marinade, massaging it in so it covers completely. Cover the container and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Remove chicken from marinade but leave a nice coating on each piece. Cook to an internal temperature of 165° F, remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

 photo Jerk.jpg

Serve with rice and black beans, Johnny cake, a fresh mango salsa, or a nice cole slaw, with plenty of ice cold Red Stripe!

Brines, Marinades, Rubs, and Glazes

Here in the Great Pacific Northwet, it’s beginning to look like maybe, just maybe, it’ll stop raining one day. As such, it’s time to think about grilling again. When we do that, there’s a veritable cornucopia of cool things to do with the stuff we grill, like brines, marinades, rubs, and glazes.

First things first, though – Time to clean and inspect your grill, before you light the fires – Here’s a pretty good primer for that.

Next question, how are you grilling? In a big way, the answer to that question will determine what to do before your food hits the fire. Grilling is, for most of us, far less controlled than cooking in an oven or on a stove top. As such, knowing how to properly set up a charcoal grill, or use a gas one, makes a big difference to your end results. The back end of this Char Siu post has clear directions for setting up a two zone charcoal grill.

Brines, marinades, rubs and glazes will all contribute to the food we grill, especially proteins and veggies. Some of those contributions will alter proteins by tenderizing, or add moisture to help foods that tend to dry out in high heat stay juicy, and all these potions can add big flavor punch when you want or need it. What’s best depends on what’s cooking.

Brining is, in simplest term, utilizing a salt solution to add internal moisture to foods that have a tendency to dry out when grilled – It’s also a great way to add some subtle flavor notes from herbs and spices. Poultry, pork, and firm fish like cod, salmon, and swordfish do especially well with a brine. This little primer will give you some great base knowledge and ideas.

Marinades combine an acid and a base, just as we do for vinaigrettes. Marinating can take anything from a few minutes to days, depending on what you’re working with. Marinades generally carry bolder flavor profiles than a brine does, although those flavors may or may not get as deep into a protein, veggie, etc, depending on how long they work. Beef works great marinated, as do some of the gamier meats like lamb, game, and field poultry. A general search on the site here will provide a bunch of options from which you can springboard to your own thing.

A rub can be either dry or wet, and is what it sounds like – Where marinades are meant to get deeper into the meat somewhat as a brine does, rubs sit on top and do their work right there. Salt and pepper are most common, and fact is, if you’ve got a really lovely fresh protein or veggie, may be all you need or want. More stuff can certainly be added, and doing so can help a bunch in forming a nice crust on your food, and sealing in moisture on that relatively hot grill. Here’s a bunch of ideas to get you started.

Finally, we’ve got glazes. Generally speaking, glazes employ some sugar or an analog, and maybe some fat, like butter, which are integral to making things stick to your food. They also are quite prone to burning, however, so glazes are generally done last, and watched closely to make sure they do their thing properly. M came home with some incredibly pretty local pork chops, which prompted this whole post. I decided to wing a sweet and sour glaze for those bad boys – Here’s what I came up with.

Sweet and Sour Pork Glaze

1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 Cup Ketchup
1 Tablespoon Honey
1 teaspoon Yellow Mustard
1 teaspoon Dark Molasses
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon granulated Onion
1 teaspoon granulated Garlic
Pinch Lemon Thyme
Pinch Sea Salt

Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive mixing bowl and whisk to incorporate thoroughly. Allow to sit for 15-20 minutes at room temp for flavors to marry.

Bast pork with glaze liberally in the last 3-5 minutes that it’s grilling, and keep a close eye on things so the sugars don’t burn.

Feel free to leave some at table as well.

Mojo, the marinade that made carne asada famous

It’s a sure bet that, if you eat enough Mexican, Tex Mex, Caribbean, or South American food, you’ve enjoyed some form of carne asada. Certainly then, you’ve swooned over the rich and pungent blends of flavors presented by something that looks so simple, but tastes so complex. The answer lies in Mojo, the marinade that made carne asada famous. The literal translation of the South American name for the dish is roasted meat, which tells us right away that the cooking side of things isn’t complex. All that magic comes from the mojo, and fortunately for us, it’s not only easy to make, it’s downright a gas.

Carne asada de UrbanMonique
Carne asada de UrbanMonique

Before we dive fully into Mojo, let’s spend a few looking at the history of carne asada – It’s as old as fire and cooking vessels, really. No one can lay claim to originating the dish, (although that hasn’t stopped many from trying). In addition to straight asada, there are popular variants that have much to do with how the meat is handled for service – Shredded or ground, as opposed to cooked whole and sliced, for instance. Shredded or pulled beef is found in American barbecue, ropa vieja in the Caribbean, and carne deshebrada in Mexico. One of the few variants with a fairly clear origin is carne asada fries, a sort of Tex-Mex swing at poutine, with carne asada and typical fixins replacing the gravy – Lolita’s in San Diego lays claim to that one, by the way. The versions most Americans are accustomed to stem from northern Mexican cuisines, although there are popular southern variants as well.

Mojo de UrbanMonique, a great all purpose marinade
Mojo de UrbanMonique, a great all purpose marinade

Specific cuts of beef are commonly associated with carne asada, and they’re not exactly the rock stars. These include skirt, flank, and flap steak, the stuff the folks doing the boogie up in the hill vertainly did not buy for themselves. That stuff was considered refuse, and the genesis of great meals formed around such marginal cuts is another example of the disenfranchised making due with while the rich folks wolfed down filet mignon. Yet here in the 21st century, popularity has turned all that on its head – When we shopped for this post, skirt steak wasn’t available, and both flank and flap were commanding $10 a pound – TEN BUCKS A POUND!! Remember what happened with short ribs, or veal bones, a while back? Same gig – Popularity breeds stunning expense, straight out. The moral of the story is to be flexible – When we spied eye of the round cut thin as steaks for $5 a pound, it was game over, and ‘authenticity’ be hanged – It’ll all eat just fine – Boneless chuck, the bargain basement of beef cuts, makes perfectly wonderful carne asada.

Mojo de UrbanMonique - Leave it rustic, or blend, as you prefer

Now, on to that mojo. If you have a carniceria nearby, you can bet they offer carne asada, either in whole steaks, sliced, or chopped. You’ll likely find it either preperada, (marinated) or not, and if you get their marinade, what you’ll get can run the gamut from simple salt and oil, to quite complex mixes that rival a mole – The marinade is where the real poetic license lives with carne asada. What you create is up to you, (and we’ll provide plenty of options herein to get ya started.)

As common and as diverse as spaghetti sauce, there are dozens of popular, commercial mojo variants, let alone the tens of thousands rendered by home cooks everywhere. The Spanish word Mojo derives from the Portuguese, Molho, which simply means sauce – a clear indicator of its ubiquity. There is general agreement that mojo originated in the Canary Islands, the archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa. Canarian cuisine is a fascinating amalgamation of the native islanders, (sadly, now largely extinct), Spanish, Portuguese, and African roots. Their cooking emphasizes freshness, simplicity, and powerful flavors, many of which derive from various mojos. Literally every Canarian family has at least two signature mojos, passed down from generation to generation. The signature island dish, Papas Arrugadas, (wrinkly potatoes), is demonstrative of all that. Whole potatoes boiled in salt water, and served with red and green mojo – And in an interesting twist of serendipity, the potato isn’t native to the Canaries – They came from South America, of course.

Canarian Mojo with Papas Arrugadas
Canarian Mojo with Papas Arrugadas

In its simplest form, mojo contains olive oil, chiles (pimienta in the Canaries), garlic, paprika, coriander (either fresh or seed), and cumin. As mentioned, there are two primary branches of Canarian mojo, red and green. The red, fueled by dried or fresh chiles and paprika, is most often paired with meat, while the green, made with green peppers, cilantro, or parsley, compliments fish courses. There are many other iterations, some using local cheese, (mojo con queso), garlic, almonds, and fresh herbs – Check out that almond Mojo recipe and you’ll see what I mean about rivaling moles. One could easily spent a happy year working through all these lovely things, and one of these days, I just might.

The flow of humanity in the 16th through 19th centuries, both forced and chosen, brought mojo to Europe, then South America, the Caribbean, and eventually, North America. Mojo not only thrived, it grew in leaps and bounds. Were I forced to define a generic, accurate version that we here in the Estados Unidos are familiar with, it would certainly include chiles, citrus, garlic, oil, and vinegar – A Mexican vinaigrette, in essence. Proportions are pretty broadly interpreted, with the main aim being making enough to generously coat and marinate your proteins.

Established Mexican, Caribbean, and South American variants also run the gamut from super simple to dizzyingly complex. What this means to the home cook is that, in all honestly, you can’t go wrong – Combine stuff you love and that plays well together, and you’re in like Flynn. I’m going to offer several variants, including fairly faithful renderings of styles you’ve probably tried and liked – As I always note, use these as a springboard for personal creativity, and know that you’ll likely never do the exact same thing twice – The real beauty of Mojo is as a last minute inspirational meal – You’ve got this, that, and the other thing in your stores, so what do you do with them? You do this.

The basics for a Mexican style mojo
The basics for a Mexican style mojo

NOTE ON WHAT TO MAKE: Tacos, burritos, chimis, or taco salads, with fresh pick de gallo and warm tortillas, are almost a must for your first meal if you’re marinating proteins, but keep in mind, this stuff has North African and Iberian roots, so get bold and go that direction if you feel so inspired. And you can always sauté the meat with something new, change the spicing, and make something totally different.

Carne Asada Hash, the perfect next morning leftover
Carne Asada Hash, the perfect next morning leftover

NOTE ON MARINATING: Any marinade containing citrus, other acids like Vinegar, or other fruits like papaya, kiwi, pineapple, fig, or mango will break down the connective tissues in proteins as they marinate – There’s an enzyme called protease, (papain in papaya), that does the trick. That’s great for tenderizing tougher cuts, and it’s the secret as to why marginal stuff like skirt stake or flank steak can come out so tender. That said, be careful with the duration – There are a lot of recipes out there that advise marinating overnight, and that’s taking things too far – Going over 6 hours risks mushy meat, and nobody likes that texture. Marinate proteins for at least an hour, and as long as 4 or 5, and you’ll get great flavor infusion and a proper degree of tenderization.

Tacos Carne Asada
Tacos Carne Asada

NOTE ON GRILLING: Anything you marinate in Mojo will taste best grilled. And if you can, do so with wood or charcoal, although gas works just fine too. With the thinner cuts or proteins commonly used for carne asada, you’ve got to keep an eye on things – We’re talking a 2 minute punk rock song per side, as opposed to the common, classic rock 3-4 minutes a side measure. A lot of restaurants grill carne asada to well done, but you do not need to do that. Grill to medium rare, then allow a good 5 to 10 minute rest before you carve. If you use the more rustic cuts of beef, like skirt, flank, or flap steaks, carve 90° to the grain, at a 45° angle for each slice.

NOTE ON OIL: You’ll see I call for Avocado Oil on several Mojo recipes. I like it for it’s rich, buttery feel and neutral taste, as well as its exceptional smoke point. You can certainly use Extra Virgin Olive Oil in any of these recipes, but you really owe it to yourself to try avocado oil in the near future.

First, the classic Mojo roots.


Canarian Green Mojo

1 Bundle fresh Cilantro
3/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 fresh Lime
3 cloves Garlic
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 teaspoon Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper

Rinse and dry all produce.

Remove long stems from Cilantro, discard and mince the leaves.

Peel and stem garlic, and mince.

Juice lime, and set aside.

If you’re using whole spices, add salt, pepper, and cumin to a spice grinder and pulse to an even consistency, (3 or 4 pulses should do it.)

Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive bowl and mix thoroughly. You can leave the sauce rustic, or process it with a stick blender for a smoother consistency.

Allow sauce to marry for 30 minutes prior to use. Serve with fresh crusty bread, potatoes, fish, or veggies.

 

Canarian Red Mojo

1 large Red Sweet Pepper
2-4 fresh hot chiles, (chef’s choice, they don’t have to be red – Jalapeño, Habanero, Serrano, and Cayenne all work)
3 cloves fresh Garlic
2-3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Cider Vinegar
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 teaspoon Cumin

Rinse all produce and pat dry.

Stem, seed, and devein the Pepper and chiles, (leave veins in chiles if you want more heat.)

Fine dice Pepper and chiles.

Mince Garlic.

Process Cumin to a powder if you’re using whole.

Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive bowl and mix thoroughly. You can leave the sauce rustic, or process it with a stick blender for a smoother consistency.

Allow sauce to marry for 30 minutes prior to use. Serve with fresh crusty bread, chicken, pork, or beef.

 

UrbanMonique Signature Mojo – This is a great all purpose Mojo, with a couple of our signature twists.

Prep for making mojo is simple and quick
Prep for making mojo is simple and quick

2 small Limes
1 navel Orange
1-3 Jalapeño Chiles
1/2 bunch fresh Cilantro
1/2 Cup Avocado Oil
2 Tablespoons Live Cider Vinegar
Pinch of Sea Salt
3-4 twists fresh ground Pepper

Rinse and pat dry all produce.

Zest and juice the citrus, and reserve both.

Peel, stem, and mince the garlic.

Stem, de-seed, and devein the jalapeños, (leave the veins if you like more heat).

Remove long stems from Cilantro and mince the remainder.

Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive bowl and mix thoroughly. You can leave the sauce rustic, or process it with a stick blender for a smoother consistency.

Makes a fantastic marinade for chicken, pork, or beef. Also does great with tofu, veggies, or fish.
And finally, here are a few Mexican and South American variants.

 

Quick Cervesa Mojo – Great for folks that don’t like heat.

1 bottle Negra Modelo Beer
1 small lime
1 bunch Green Onions
3 cloves fresh Garlic
Pinch of Sea Salt
A few twists fresh ground Pepper

Open beer and pour into a bowl, allowing it to loose its fizz and flatten somewhat, (About 5-10 minutes)

Zest and juice lime, set both aside.

Peel, stem and mince garlic

Trim and peel green onions, then leave them whole, as trimmed.

Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive bowl and mix thoroughly. Leave the sauce rustic, do not process it.

Allow sauce to marry for 30 minutes prior to use. Makes a fantastic marinade for chicken, pork, or beef. Marinate proteins for an hour, then remove the steaks and the onions and grill both as desired. Goes great with the rest of the Negra Modelo six pack.

 

Taco Truck Mojo – There is no standard recipe, but this will put you in the running…

2 small Limes
2-4 hot Chiles of your choice
3 cloves fresh Garlic
1/2 Cup Avocado Oil
1 Tablespoon dark Soy Sauce
2 teaspoons Smoked Sweet Paprika
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 teaspoon Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Oregano
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/4 teaspoon White Pepper

Rinse and pat dry produce.

Zest and juice Limes, set both aside.

Stem, seed, and devein chiles, (leave veins in if you want the heat). Fine dice chiles.

Peel and stem Garlic, then mince.

Process spices to a consistent rough powder if you’re using whole.

Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive bowl. Process with a stick blender to a smooth, even consistency.

Makes a fantastic marinade for chicken, pork, or beef. Marinate proteins for at least an hour, and as many as 5 hours. Grill proteins as desired, and baste with the marinate as you’re grilling.

 

Garlic Papaya Mojo

1 fresh Papaya
1 small Green Bell Pepper
3-4 Green Onions
1 small fresh Lime
3 cloves Fresh Garlic
1 Tablespoon Avocado Oil
1 Tablespoon live Cider Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Lemon Thyme
Pinch of Sea Salt
A couple twists fresh ground Pepper

Peel, seed and rough chop papaya.

Zest and juice Limes.

Stem, seed and devein green pepper, then dice.

Peel, stem green onions, then cut into 1/4″ thick rounds.

Peel, stem, and mince garlic.

Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive bowl. Process with a stick blender to a smooth, even consistency.

Makes a fantastic marinade for chicken, pork, or beef. Marinate proteins for at least an hour, and as many as 3 hours – don’t exceed that too much, as the papain enzyme in papaya is formidable stuff. Grill proteins as desired, and baste with the marinate as you’re grilling.

Le Velouté

Ah, the joy that is a velouté; say it with me now – Veh-Loo-Tay – D’accord! It’s a safe bet that a fair chunk of y’all aren’t as familiar with this giant of sauces as you’d like to be, and we’re about to fix that.

Le velouté is a giant because it was anointed by the legendary Père of classic French cuisine, Auguste Escoffier, as one of the five Mother Sauces, the roots from which a host of classic French and world variants spring, (The other four, for the record, are Béchamel, Espagnole, Hollandaise, and Tomato). Velouté derives from the French ‘velour’, and speaks to the light, velvety nature of the sauce.

The classic Velouté - Light and creamy
The classic Velouté – Light and creamy

The classic velouté combines a light stock like chicken, veggie, or fish with a blond roux as a thickener. Typically, only a little salt and pepper is added for seasoning. The light stock refers to one in which the bones, veggies or racks are not roasted prior to the stock being made – That keeps the color and flavor notably lighter. Since the sauce itself is quite delicate, it’s most often paired with the things that make up the stock it derives from – poultry, fish, or vegetables.

Then come the derivates, which are too numerous to list here; the point is that a basic velouté is a jumping off point for almost endless experimentation. Add a little lemon juice, an egg yolk, and some cream, and you’ve got an Allemande. Onion, paprika and white wine yield a Hungarian. Adding mushroom liquor and cream to arrive at a Suprême, and so on. Here’s how you start.

Classic Velouté
2 Cups light Chicken Stock
2 Tablespoons unsalted Butter
2 Tablespoons all purpose Flour
Sea Salt
Fresh ground Black Pepper

Add the butter to a heavy sauté pan over medium heat, and melt completely.

Add the flour, whisk to incorporate thoroughly, then allow the roux to cook for about 2 minutes, until the blend starts to smell slightly nutty.

Add the stock in a slow drizzle, whisking constantly. The sauce will start out kinda like mashed potatoes, and thin progressively as you continue adding stock. Go slow, take your time, allowing the sauce to return to a simmer before adding more stock. There’s an elastic bond formed between the fat and the flour that is integral to the finished sauce – For that reason, never dump in a whole bunch of liquid when thickening with a roux – work slowly and steadily to allow that elasticity to be retained and do its thing. The roux not only thickens, it traps tiny air bubbles formed when you whisk. The end result is a velouté that, while appearing thick, is remarkably light and airy.

Once all the stock is added, reduce the heat to low and allow the sauce to cook for about 10-12 minutes, whisking occasionally.

Remove the velouté from the heat and serve immediately.
There’s a reason that a Saucier, (The Chef responsible for making and serving sauces, as well as sautéing dishes), is often considered one of the the highest positions in a pro kitchen, second only to the Chef and Sous Chef. And frankly, whatever the cuisine, a great sauce is key to many a dish – From Italian to Indian, Mexican to Moroccan, sauces rule, and for good reason.

A great sauce elevates a dish, enhancing and highlighting rather than overpowering. Take, for example, the wonderful, fresh tomato sauce in which a Oaxacan style chile relleno is floated – Without that, it’s a good relleno, but with it, it’s a dish of complex, sublime beauty. Arguably, no sauce does a better job at this than a velouté – The lightness of stock and the richness of a thickener combine in a way few others can or do.

That classic velouté is important to try and to keep in your quiver for when you might need it – It’s deceptively simple and quick. That said, there’s more than one way to skin a potato – Who says that, in your own kitchen, you must follow some rigid set of rules when it comes to sauce?

Let’s say you sautéed a chicken breast, and while its resting, you’re wondering what might make a nice finishing touch. Add a couple tablespoons of butter to that sauté pan, let it melt, then pull out some chicken stock, and add that. Whisk to incorporate, and let everything come to a simmer.

Now, shake in a little Arrowroot, (a powdered root made from any one of a number of tropical plants), that is a potent yet quite transparent thickener. A dash of salt, a twist of pepper, and you’ve got what many would call a pan sauce, (it is), but as far as I’m concerned, you would not be at all out of line to call it a velouté, (which sounds far sexier, doesn’t it?). Put on your best Eric Ripert accent and call it that – Who’s to argue with you?

The bottom line is that a velouté is, fundamentally, thickened stock. You can arrive at that end result any way you see fit. Corn starch will work, as will modern, molecular gastronomy versions like Ultra-Sperse 3. That product, made by Modernist Pantryu, is a ‘all-natural cold water swelling starch’ derived from tapioca. Ultra-Sperse works with cold or hot liquids, doesn’t get lumpy, and yields a remarkably smooth finished product with virtually no added or off-putting flavor notes. It works quickly, has amazing stability, and is genuinely fun to play with, (And for the record, no, I am not sponsored by or in league with Modernist Pantry, I just like their stuff a lot). I tend to use either Arrowroot, which I keep in a shaker top bottle above the stove, or Ultra-Sperse, because they’re quick, and they provide a lighter sauce than the traditional roux.

And then there’s all that variety. As I noted above, adding a couple, two, three ingredients to a standard velouté creates a whole ‘nuther stable of deliciousness. Veggies, from carrot to cucumber, tomato to turnip, can be added – Then you’ve got something really special. Asparagus, artichoke, sweet corn – Whatever is fresh and strikes your creative fancy. Go farther afield and add mango to chicken stock, finish that velouté, and top fresh salmon with it. Maybe blueberries and lime with pork tenderloin – You get the idea. Grab a copy of The Flavor Bible, and come up with some new pairings of your own.

If what you want to add to a velouté requires cooking, and especially for veggies, it’s best to blanch them in boiling, salty water, (no salt for fruit, of course), and then plunge them quickly into an ice water bath – That will instantly stop the cooking process, and retain all those vibrant colors – That’s important, because we eat with our eyes, right?

Next, process your fruit or veggies in a blender or processor until uniformly smooth.

Transfer whatever you’re saucing to a sauté pan over medium heat.

Add a couple tablespoons of butter and whisk to incorporate.

Add your thickening agent graduating, whisking gently and constantly. When your just shy of your desired thickness, remove the sauce from the heat.

If you want to be fancy, (or if your ingredients are fibrous), run the sauce through a single mesh strainer, and then serve promptly.

I wrote this piece because yesterday was Father’s Day, and our youngest, along with our dear friend Mario Young, came over for the night. M and I bought fresh local chicken breasts, sweet corn, a baguette, stuff for a lovely green salad, a couple of nice bottles of wine, and stuff to make strawberry shortcake for dessert.

Then M saw some very nice looking avocados and said “what about these?” As we chose a couple, the little light bulb over my old, bald head brightened notably. Here’s what I made – And note that I took some serious poetic license with the classic velouté, and you know what? Not only is that perfectly OK, that sauce was the absolute star – Everybody raved over it, and the light, fresh taste it added to a perfect meal.

Velouté de Avocat UrbanMonique

1 large, ripe Hass Avocado
1 1/2 Cups light Chicken Stock
1/2 Cup Greek Yoghurt
2 Tablespoons unsalted Butter
2 teaspoons fresh Lemon Juice
1-2 teaspoons Arrowroot
Sea Salt
Fresh ground Pepper

On a hot grill or barbecue, slice the avocado in half, remove the pit, and place the fruit cut side down on the grill for about one minute.

Grilling avocados deepens their flavor
Grilling avocados deepens their flavor

Gently turn the avocado cut side up and grill for another 4-5 minutes, until the meat around the edges of the skin begins to notably soften.

Remove the avocado from the heat and allow to rest for a few minutes.

Scoop the avocado meat into a heavy sauté pan over medium heat, then firmly mash the avocado with a potato masher or a large fork.

Add the butter and whisk to incorporate.

Slowly but steadily add the chicken stock, whisking steadily, allowing the sauce to heat through as the stock is added.

Add a teaspoon of arrowroot and whisk steadily. The sauce should begin to thicken notably. Continue whisking, and add more arrowroot if you prefer a thicker sauce.

Season lightly with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. NOTE: I like pepper, but you can certainly leave it out and let diners add their own. My friend, (and excellent home cook), David Berkowitz recommends white pepper here, so that you don’t get dark little flecks in the sauce – He noted that after reading the original post – As noted above, we eat with our eyes!

Reduce heat to low and allow the sauce to cook for about 5 minutes – Remove sauce from heat and either serve rustic, or run it through a single mesh strainer if you prefer a smoother texture.

Serve hot.

Our Velouté de Avocat UrbanMonique was the star of this great meal
Our Velouté de Avocat UrbanMonique was the star of this great meal

Want to take things a step further, and create a great summer soup?

Sopa de Aguacate

4 Cups light Chicken Stock
1 large Avocado
2 Tablespoons unsalted Butter
4-5 fresh Basil leaves
1 Tablespoon Greek Yoghurt
1 teaspoon Arrowroot
Sea Salt
Fresh ground Pepper

Add the chicken stock and butter to a heavy sauce pan over medium high heat, and cook until the stock simmers.

Remove the pan from the heat, add the arrowroot and whisk steadily to incorporate.

In a blender or processor, add the avocado, basil leaves, a healthy pinch of salt, and 5-6 twists of pepper. Pulse the mix two or three times, then add a cup of chicken stock, pulse a couple of times, and repeat until all the stock has been added.

Add the arrowroot and yoghurt and pulse a couple more times to incorporate thoroughly.

Can be served immediately, or chilled and served cold.

Sopa de Aguacate
Sopa de Aguacate