Blog Archive

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Three Easy Sauces

Sauce Gribiche, Horseradish Cream Sauce, and Fig Mustard

Three Easy Sauces
By Victoria Challancin

I love condiments.  There, I've said it.  I just love them.  What a perfect way to punch up any simply prepared dish, be it meat, chicken, vegetables, or even cheese.  You've seen me in the past go on and on about them.  Seriously, I know no restraint when it comes to adding a dab of interest to a meal via a condiment.  A splash of color, a dollop of flavor, a spot of interest. No matter how bland a dish is, a simple sauce or perky condiment can take it from bland to sublime with a single splash.  How easy it is to add a bit of interest to a simple dish!

Here are a few sauces or condiments I have written about (just visit the drop-down menu above for the recipes):
  • Avocado Mayonnaise
  • Chimichurri Sauce
  • Plum Sauce (a.k.a. Duck Sauce)
  • Coconut-Garlic Chutney
  • Curried Ketchup
  • Dukkah
  • Fresh Herb and Pumpkin Seed Pesto
  • Grapefruit Gremolata
  • Harissa
  • Italian Mostarda
  • Italian Salsa Verde with Arugula and Hazelnuts
  • Joe's Stone Crab Mustard Sauce
  • Mexican Green Sauce with Avocado and Pápalo
  • Muhammara
  • Mustard-Horseradish Yogurt Sauce with Dill
  • Pickled Chile Manzano
  • Roasted Tomato, Chipotle Chile, and Mango Salsa
  • Sea Salt with Dried Hibiscus Flowers
  • Tzatziki
  • Za'atar
Note:  For a clever riff on the scientific Periodic Table of Elements, visit here to see a fun Table of Condiments That Periodically Go Bad.

In the last class of a recent 8-week series I taught to Mexican cooks, I wanted to offer something useful and simple in the way of sauces, something that could be quickly prepared to accompany any number of main dishes.  I came up with the following three:  Fig Mustard, Horseradish Cream Sauce, and a French Sauce Gribiche.  I thought these would offer easy upgrades for simply prepared milanesas, roasted chicken, baked fish, grilled meats, and even roasted vegetables.  I knew they would be useful.

* * * * * 

Fig Mustard
How is it possible that a recipe with only two ingredients can taste this good?  Simple.  Just use a quality fig jam and a top-notch Dijon mustard.  This incredibly simple sauce would be terrific with chicken, shrimp, scallops, pork, bacon, practically any sandwich using cured meats or cheese (grilled halloumi...yum).  Or use it on sandwiches or panini.

Recipe:  Fig Mustard
(Recipe from
Makes 1/3 cup

3 tablespoons fig jam
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Combine the fig jam and mustard in a small bowl.  Stir until evenly incorporated.

* * * * * 

Horseradish Cream Sauce
This is an unbeatable easy sauce that goes well with beef--I've made it for years and years.  I now make it with Mexican sour cream, but it works with crème fraîche, sour cream, or even Greek yogurt.  If I have fresh dill on hand, I often add a tablespoon of that as well.  I tend to add a bit more horseradish than called for here (I deliberately made it not too pungent for the Mexican cooks in my class, who are generally not accustomed to horseradish), but it is up to you.  Add the lime or lemon juice to taste as well--this is one of those sauces you can just play with to suit your tastes.

Recipe:  Horseradish Cream Sauce
(Recipe by Victoria Challancin)
Makes approximately 3/4 cup

1/2 cup of crème fraîche, sour cream, Greek yogurt, or Mexican crema ácida
1 garlic clove, peeled and pressed
2 to 3 tablespoons lemon or lime juice, or to taste
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Whisk together sour cream, garlic, lemon juice, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Check and adjust seasoning to taste.

* * * * * 

Sauce Gribiche
Wonderful with fish, chicken, fresh asparagus, leeks, new potatoes, cauliflower, or the traditional calf's head, sauce gribiche is a French classic.  Sometimes it has a mayonnaise-like consistency, somewhat similar to a tartar sauce, and other times it is like a chunky vinaigrette--and this is how I prefer it.  I added an extra egg, a few more capers, and because I had it on hand, dill pickle relish which I substituted for the sour cornichon (gasp!).  Chervil and tarragon would be traditional herbs to use here, but alas, I only had parsley.  I do think dill would be a nice addition as well, albeit not French-inspired.  The Zuni Cafe makes its version with a four-minute egg and Chez Panisse uses both chive and a bit of dill for the herb element [I found these recipes on  the Orangette blog, here].

I chose to lightly adapt David Leibowitz's version, probably because I so enjoyed his post where he describes how his French friend Jackie, a woman after my own heart, tossed this sauce together au pif, which means cooking "by the nose," or to taste.

Recipe:  Sauce Gribiche
(Adapted slightly from a recipe by David Leibowitz)
Makes 4 generous servings

2 eggs, hard-cooked and peeled
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or to taste
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 cornichon or 1 tablespoon dill pickle relish
20 small capers, drained, rinsed, and squeezed dry
1/4 cup (gently packed) mixed chopped herbs (flat-leaf parsley, chervil, and/or tarragon)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Peel the eggs and place the yolks in one small bowl and the whites in another.

Mash the yolks with the mustard.  Dribble in the olive oil, beating with a fork or wooden spoon, then add the vinegar.

Chop the egg whites and cornichon (the size of the capers), and add them to the sauce.  Add the capers.

Stir in the herbs and add salt and pepper.  Taste and season with additional salt,pepper, and vinegar, if necessary.  Serve at room temperature.

The gribiche sauce can be made up to one day ahead and refrigerated.


I served these sauces with Scallop Potato Stacks and small skewers of grilled marinated arrachera, flank steak

Parting Shot:  Koi

©Victoria Challancin.  All Rights Reserved.

Like life, recipes are meant to be shared, but please ask permission before using my text or photos.  Thanks!


Hotly Spiced said...

I love horseradish cream and I don't mind it with a bit of heat. I love the look of your potato scallop stacks - these would be wonderful with your sauces. Looks delicious Victoria and I love that triple dish! xx

Eha said...

Thank you! The fig and Dijon mix is inspired: I would never have tried that, but shall soonest!! The horseradish cream we make pretty alike and I love it. The Gribiche has been a favourite of mine for decades and I have just substituted my old recipe on the files with yours: am I allowed to say 'more nifty'! Would you believe have not married it with my other favourite of asparagus: have to wait a few months for that to appear in the shops and try!

Mark said...

The fig mustard sounds intriguing. Like a honey mustard but with more depth. Next time I fry up some chicken tenders, I'm making that sauce. Thanks Victoria!

tania@mykitchenstories said...

OOh a feast of great sauces. Thanks for sharing them . we tend to get stuck on the same things without this kind of inspiration thanks Victoria

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Sauce gribiche is one of my favourite sauces! :D said...

You got me at the fig...I cannot wait to try it.