A new use for vinaigrettes

  • Tue Jan 10th, 2012 10:40am
  • Life

By Jan Roberts-Dominguez

Nowadays, a flavorful vinaigrette is just as likely to participate in the presentation of the main dish as it is an outstanding salad concept.

In one manner it has become popular to serve the components of the vinaigrette — oil and vinegar — separately on the plate.

In Mediterranean cuisines, it’s a particularly popular method for presenting condiments.

In classic French cuisine, there was a time when the appearance of even a trace amount of fat on the surface of a sauce meant that the sauce had broken, the result of a careless or inept chef. However, these days, our views of what makes a sauce a sauce have changed.

Thanks to a merging of cuisines, and a search for healthier options to rich sauces, we now have all sorts of creative and tasty saucing alternatives from salsas to vinaigrettes.

Within the realm of vinaigrettes-as-sauces, chefs have taken to pureeing the vinaigrettes with other ingredients, such as fresh tomatoes or fire-roasted peppers, to stabilize the sauce and smooth out the flavor.

The hot tomato vinaigrette recipe that follows is an excellent example of that style. So the next time you reach for that bottle of homemade vinaigrette, contemplate its potential for enhancing dishes beyond your nightly tossed green salad.

This vinaigrette is wonderful with grilled, poached, or steamed fish or shellfish. It uses hot tomato coulis (chopped tomatoes lightly sauteed in oil) as the emulsifier and is given extra flavor and complexity with a reduced broth.

The vinaigrette is then combined with “beurre fondu,” also known as emulsified butter, for a rich and slightly thickened experience.

Fresh tomato vinaigrette

2cups broth (either vegetable or chicken)

1/4cup finely chopped shallot

1clove garlic, peeled, crushed and chopped

5tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4ripe Roma-style tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1fresh thyme sprig

2tablespoons lemon juice

1tablespoon water

4tablespoons butter

2tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2tablespoons red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

Simmer the broth in a pan until it has been reduced to 1/2 cup (tip: to determine what level the broth will be at when it has reduced to 1/2 cup, first fill the pan with 1/2 cup of water, then stick a chopstick or knife into the liquid and mark the level it reaches on the chopstick or knife).

In a skillet, saute the shallot and garlic in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium low heat. Add the tomatoes and sprig of fresh thyme and cook until all of the liquid from the tomatoes has evaporated.

Meanwhile, prepare the beurre fondu by heating the lemon juice and water, then whisking in the butter.

Scrape the tomato (coulis) mixture into a blender. Add the broth reduction, the balsamic vinegar and the red wine vinegar and blend briefly, just to puree the tomatoes. Scrape the mixture into a small bowl, then whisk in the beurre fondu and remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Adjust the sauce’s seasonings by adding additional vinegar, olive oil, a bit of butter, as well as salt and pepper to taste.

Makes about 2 cups.

Recipe adapted from “Sauces — Classical and Contemporary Sauce Making,” by James Peterson.

Apples and pork: a natural combo. The sauce can be prepared several days ahead.

Pork tenderloins with rosemary-apple vinaigrette and grilled pineapple

2pork tenderloins (approximately 11/4 pounds each)

1tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2cup rosemary-apple vinaigrette (recipe follows)

2tablespoons vegetable oil

11/2teaspoons salt

1/2teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

61/2-inch-thick rounds of fresh pineapple

Extra virgin olive oil

Using a sharp knife, trim all fat and silver skin from the tenderloins and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the mustard, the 1/2 cup of rosemary-apple vinaigrette and vegetable oil and whisk to combine. Transfer contents to a resealable plastic bag and add the tenderloins. Turn the tenderloins so that they are evenly coated with the marinade, then seal the bag, trying to remove as much air as possible. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes (or up to 24 hours) before proceeding.

To cook, preheat gas or charcoal grill. Place tenderloins on rack and grill over medium-high heat, turning every 4 minutes or so until all sides are browned and the tenderloins are cooked to desired stage of doneness. At the same time, brush the fresh pineapple rounds with olive oil and place on the grill alongside the pork. Cook until golden on one side, then turn and cook until golden on the other side. The total cooking time for the pork will be about 15 to 18 minutes. The pineapple slices should cook in a little less time. Remove meat and pineapple from the grill and allow the meat to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Slice the meat into 1/2-inch thick slices on the diagonal, and serve immediately, with the pineapple and remaining 1 cup of rosemary apple vinaigrette spooned over the top or alongside.

Serves 4 to 6.

Rosemary-apple vinaigrette

1medium-sized tart apple (such as a Granny Smith), cored, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices

1/3cup apple cider vinegar

2tablespoons minced shallots

2tablespoons

1 1/2teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

1/4teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2teaspoons Dijon mustard

1teaspoon soy sauce

1/2teaspoon salt

1tablespoon finely minced green onion

1/2cup vegetable oil

Combine the apples, cider vinegar, shallots, sugar, rosemary and black pepper in a skillet and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the apples are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a blender or food processor.

Add the mustard, soy sauce, salt, and green onions, and puree on high speed. With the motor running, add the oil in a thin stream and process until emulsified (the mixture will appear thick, with the consistency similar to mayonnaise). Remove from the blender, adjust seasonings, adding additional pepper, mustard, soy sauce or salt as needed; refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use. Will keep for several days.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Jan Roberts-Dominguez: janrd@proaxis.com or www.janrd.com.

Grilled chicken with tomato ginger vinaigrette

2/3cup olive oil

6garlic cloves, chopped fine

1/4cup fresh lemon juice

2tablespoons finely grated, peeled, fresh gingerroot

1 1/2tablespoons soy sauce

1tablespoon coriander seeds, crushed

2teaspoons Dijon mustard

1teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes

1/2teaspoon salt

1/4teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

6boneless/skinless chicken breasts

Tomato ginger vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Prepare the marinade: In a large jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, gingerroot, soy sauce, coriander seeds, Dijon mustard, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Shake to combine the ingredients.

Pour the marinade into a resealable plastic bag; add the chicken breasts and marinate for 3 to 6 hours in the refrigerator.

Preheat the grill. Grill the chicken on an oiled rack set to 5 to 6 inches over glowing coals or gas element, turning once to evenly brown both sides. Transfer the chicken to a platter and serve with the tomato ginger vinaigrette.

Makes 6 servings.

Tomato ginger vinaigrette

2average-sized Roma-style tomatoes, seeded and chopped

2teaspoons finely grated, peeled, fresh gingerroot

2tablespoons double strength chicken broth (Campbell’s)

1large garlic clove, finely minced

2tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/2teaspoon salt

1/4teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

In a blender, blend together the tomatoes, gingerroot, chicken broth, garlic clove, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. With motor running add oil in a stream; blend until emulsified (the mixture will appear creamy and slightly thick. Vinaigrette may be made up to 2 days ahead, covered, and refrigerated. Bring the vinaigrette to room temperature and whisk before serving.

Makes about 2 cups.