Sauce Savoring & Mayo Magic

We are big fans of sauces at our house, believing that a sauce can make the meal. My mom used to say, “It’s the company that seasons the meal”.  And while I agree with this sentiment, I would assert that the sauces take it to the next level.

Our favorite Chicken and Fries restaurant in Nashville is McDougal’s . The chicken is crispy and flavorful, their fries are delicious, but their sauces are what make it so delightful.  They are a cut above the rest, the sauces are the reason to choose McDougal’s.  IMG_0905

We have a few sauces that we make at home that fit into this “makes your meal” category.

We make this Chimichurri to put on top of meat, seafood and/or roasted vegetables and swoon.  chimichurri

When we make this Creamy Cilantro Jalapeño Dip for a Fiesta, we find ourselves dipping everything into it.

Cilantro dip

Tzatziki completes a Greek Meal and can be tweaked in many ways. (As well as this Satay Thai Peanut Sauce and Greek Dressing.)

DSC_1102 (1)

Another family favorite is Aioli. 

I started making it several years ago when we had “Fancy Sandwich” night at Small Group and we signed up for condiments.  I made this aioli and it was a hit- smeared on a deli sandwich that was piled high with meat, cheese, lettuce and tomato and pressed in the panini maker.  I also started making it whenever we made sweet potato “fries” as a dipping sauce.  It’s super simple and can be adapted many ways- with flavors added as you like.


Garlic Rosemary Aioli

1 cup good mayonnaise

(a little olive oil, if the mayonnaise isn’t very rich or is too thick)

1/4 tsp finely chopped fresh or dried rosemary

a sprinkle of kosher salt, to taste

2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced

Stir all ingredients together. Serve at once or place covered in refrigerator until used.

Now, this is a mayonnaise-based sauce. And I know that mayonnaise can be somewhat controversial.  Some people think it’s a fatty condiment and feel great disdain for it (including my highly esteemed father).  Others, who are mayo enthusiasts have deep loyalties to a specific brand of mayo.  I get that. We are pretty dedicated to Duke’s brand at our house. Recently, though,  I experienced the incredible magic of homemade mayonnaise.  I had heard that making mayo is simple, affordable and delicious- now I know first hand. I finally made it and it is MAGICAL! I am enthralled at the marvelous emulsification process!

A jar-full is made with a few ingredients you most likely have on hand, and it is whipped into smooth tangy perfection within minutes. This recipe was found in the beautiful and inspiring book, The Hands-On Home.

DSC_1098 (1)Magic Mayonnaise from The Hands-On Home book by Erica Strauss

1 large egg

1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar

1 tsp. dijon mustard

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 cup neutral-flavored vegetable oil

(This recipe uses an immersion blender- If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can use a whisk and a small bowl. Detailed instructions following at the end.*)

In a wide-mouthed pint mason jar, combine all the ingredients.  Give the mixture a few seconds for the egg to settle to the bottom of the jar, then insert an immersion blender and turn to medium speed.  Keep the immersion blender at the bottom of the jar; it will slowly pull the oil down and into the egg, forming a strong emulsion.  When almost all for the jar has magically turned into mayo, slowly pull the immersion blender up and out of the jar, pulsing a few times to emulsify any oil still floating at the top.

(*For the hand blended version: in a small bowl, whisk all the ingredients except the oil.  While whisking continuously, slowly drizzle the oil into the egg mixture.  The mayonnaise should transform into a thick, creamy white spread.)

[The mayonnaise will keep in an airtight in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.]

DSC_1091What are your go-to sauces or spreads? We’d love to hear your ideas!


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