Confession: I’m not remotely cool enough for this title, but a couple weeks back, I did serve up some pretty good sauces for Washington, DC’s second annual Lamb Jam. The event, put on by the American Lamb Board, an industry promotion group, brings together local chefs to showcase – you got it – lamb. The food was amazing, as were the brewers and vineyards inside who were pouring some pretty generous samples for the 300+ person, sell-out crowd.
I had the pleasure of working with Renee, the owner of Sapore Oil and Vinegar, to create some recipes for what became known as “the condiment table.” Using her wonderful products* I created three sauces that would rock on lamb, or any other meat you plan on grilling this summer. The first, a summery bright orange, is a spicy tropical mango lime sauce. The second, thick and rich, is a blackberry balsamic shallot marmalade. Bright green, grassy and spicy (but not hot) is an arugula, gremolata pesto. These recipes were definitely developed to highlight specialty oils and vinegars, but I’ve got some suggestions below for making them at home if a trip to Washington, DC’s Capitol Hill isn’t in the cards.
They all hold (and freeze) well, so make a batch, pack it in your cooler, and bring it along to the beach or country this weekend. The pesto is great with a steak, the marmalade is a rich pairing for pork, and the mango takes grilled chicken someplace tropical. And they are all fantastic over lamb.
*In full disclosure, I fell in love with Renee’s oils and vinegars at first taste. It has been so much fun working with them in the kitchen and featuring them during my Saturday morning cooking demos at Eastern Market. Consider this a full-blown, un-paid endorsement for exceptional-quality, great value (read:she could easily get $10 more a bottle), and a business owner who knows and loves her product.
Tropical Spice Mango Sauce
- 1 ripe mango, peeled and pit removed
- 1/4 cup Lime oil
- 1/3 cup Tropical Spice vinegar
- 3 tbs brown sugar
- 1” ginger, peeled*
*The easiest way to peel ginger is with the edge of a teaspoon. The peel comes right off without losing any of the flesh.
- Place mango, Lime oil, Tropical Spice vinegar, and sugar in a food processor.
- Grate ginger finely and add to other ingredients.
- Pulse in food processor. You can leave it pulpy for some texture or process it until smooth.
- Season to taste with a pinch of salt and additional sugar and vinegar as desired.
This sauce gets nice heat from the Tropical Spice vinegar and is balanced by the sweet mango. Great over grilled meats. To substitute for the Tropical Spice vinegar, combine white vinegar with a pinch of red pepper flakes and let sit for an hour. For the Lime oil, add a mild olive oil or vegetable oil and a tsp of finely grated lime zest.
Blackberry Balsamic Shallot Marmalade
- 2 tbs grape seed oil*
- 1 pound shallots, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup Blackberry Balsamic vinegar
- 1/3 cup maple sugar*
* You can substitute vegetable oil for the grape seed oil, and brown sugar for the maple sugar.
- Sauté shallots in oil over medium-high heat. Stir often to avoid burning. Cook until softened, about 10 minutes.
- Add vinegar and sugar, a pinch of nutmeg and a pinch of cardamom, continue cooking another 5-10 minutes until thick and jammy.
- Season to taste with salt and additional nutmeg and cardamom.
Use this everywhere! Over a salad, on sautéed, grilled or roasted meats, even in an omelet! Any rich, syrupy aged balsamic vinegar can be substituted for the Blackberry Balsamic.
Arugula Gremolata Pesto
Gremolata is a traditional Milanese condiment made from garlic, parsley and lemon zest.
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 2 cups loose packed arugula
- 1/2 cup loose packed parsley
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup Meyer Lemon oil
- 1 tbs lemon zest
*This tastes a bit “green” on it’s own, but balances wonderfully with the rich flavor of roasted or grilled lamb and beef.
- Toast walnuts in a sauté pan over medium heat, being careful not to burn. When you can smell the toasted nuts, immediately remove from the pan.
- Place arugula, parsley and garlic in food processor. Pulse twice for 2 seconds to roughly chop.
- Turn on processor and drizzle oil through feed tube. Turn off processor while there is still plenty of texture.
- Add nuts and lemon zest to processor and pulse 3-4 times until nuts are chopped and pesto is blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
The Meyer Lemon oil is wonderful and bright. You can substitute a good-quality, grassy olive oil and an additional tablespoon of lemon zest.