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The Bend Magazine

Sauce Boss

08/30/2020 10:00PM ● By Justin & Kayla Butts
By: Justin & Kayla Butts   Photos By: Rachel Benavides

In the old French brigade-style kitchens, where all the modern greats from Julia Child to Gordon Ramsay learned their techniques, the saucier was third in line. 

The chef was on top; then the sous chef (sous translates to subordinate); then, next in importance, was the saucier. The saucier served a critical role in the process of adding flavor, subtlety, and excitement to each dish. Sauces are elemental to French cuisine. 

However, as modern kitchens downsized to save money and fit into smaller back-of-the-house footprints, sauciers were cut from the payroll. Sauce duties were relegated down the line until they were lost. 

The art of the sauce is making a comeback in a big way. The sauce is the alchemy of the kitchen. Almost any dish is elevated with a sauce component, and sometimes the sauce is the star of the show. 

These sauce recipes are so easy to prepare, they are almost effortless. Yet they are as varied and intriguing as the lands they come from: aji verde from Peru, chermoula from Morocco, and Thai herb sauce from Thailand.

The aji verde features the salty cheese cotija, which offers a tangy flavor and thicker consistency. Chermoula was developed in land where people know their spices. The coriander and cumin seeds are first toasted, then ground, so the results sing with flavor. The Thai herb sauce is thinner, more of a vinegar-based sauce than a pesto, with a beautiful warmth from the chile peppers. 



These sauces take just minutes to prepare, but they add layers of exquisite flavor to the dish: salty, sweet, spicy, tangy, and umami, all at once and then in waves. The pork, shrimp, and wild game preparations could not be simpler: marinate and grill. But these recipes, models of simplicity, are wonderfully rich and complex on the palate.

The magic of these sauces is in freshly cut herbs. Garden-fresh herbs bring an intensity of fragrance and flavor to the dish that stale, store-bought herbs cannot emulate. That’s why a chef’s best friend is an herb garden outside the kitchen door. These days, we wish architects would just go ahead and draw an herb garden into the floor plan of every home. 

Any of these recipes would make a fast and easy weeknight meal. For this photo shoot, we held a dinner party featuring all three dishes. Our guests mixed and matched the venison, local pork, and Gulf shrimp with each of the sauces; every combination works. 

If your meals at home have been feeling a little ho-hum, try one of these sauces and watch your kitchen (and your family) sparkle with excitement. The new saucier, is in fact, is you!

RECIPE

Moroccan Shrimp 
with Chermoula 
Serves 6-8 appetizer portions
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes



Ingredients:

2 lbs gulf shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne

Chermoula:
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 cup parsley
1/2 cup mint
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Instructions:
Preheat grill to medium-high heat. 

Drizzle shrimp with olive oil. Combine salt and remaining seasonings in a medium sized bowl. Add shrimp and toss to coat in seasoning mixture. Thread 6-7 shrimp on soaked wooden or metal skewers. Grill for 2-3 minutes on each side, until opaque and just beginning to curl. 

Chermoula: Toast cumin and coriander seeds in a small pan over high heat until darkened and fragrant, about 1 minute. Combine remaining ingredients of chermoula in a blender or food processor and blend until well combined. Spoon over grilled shrimp, fish, lamb, or beef, or mix 
into prepared couscous. 

RECIPE

Peruvian Venison Steak 
with Aji Verde
Serves 4  



Prep time: 10 minutes

Inactive time: about 8 hours
Cook time: 10 minutes
Ingredients:
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
Juice of 2 limes
4 venison steaks, about 1/2-1 lb each

Aji Verde:
1 cup cilantro
1/2 cup basil
4 Jalapenos, seeded
3 cloves garlic, chopped 
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup cotija cheese
Juice of one lime

Directions:
Combine garlic, soy sauce, spices, and lime juice and blend until smooth. Transfer marinade to a sealable bag and submerge venison steaks, storing in the refrigerator for 8-16 hours. 

Preheat grill to high heat. Remove steaks from marinade and pat dry. Grill for 90 seconds over direct heat to achieve a nice sear, then move to indirect until medium rare (about 100°F). Let steak rest for 10 minutes prior to serving with Aji Verde. 

Aji Verde:
Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. 

RECIPE

Pork Skewers with 
Thai Herb Sauce
Serves 4




Prep time: 7 minutes
INACTIVE time: 8-24 hours
Cook time: 8 minutes

Ingredients:
Pork shoulder roast, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp honey
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp red chili paste
1 tsp sesame oil

Thai Herb Sauce:
1/4 fresh lime juice
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp basil, chopped
1 tbsp green onion, minced
6 dried thai chilis, seeded and minced
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp sugar

Directions:
Combine garlic, fish sauce, honey, lime juice, chili paste, and sesame oil in a medium bowl and stir well to combine. Add sliced pork and store in the refrigerator for 8-24 hours. 

Preheat grill to high heat. Remove pork from marinade and thread onto soaked wooden or metal skewers. Grill pork for 2 minutes and rotate to alternate sides until browned all over, about 7-9 minutes total. 

Remove from heat and serve immediately with Thai Herb Sauce.

Thai Herb Sauce: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir until sugar dissolves. Let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes to allow flavors to marry.