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The Secret Is In The Sauce…

Grilled Jerk Chicken

Ever wonder what makes your favorite restaurant food so darn delectable? Or what the special sauce is to their culinary magic? Well, turns out a lot of times it’s just that… the sauce!

“My husband and I had jerk chicken for the first time at a little restaurant in Asheville, NC called Salsa’s,” says award-winning home cook Angela Gray. “The wonderful fusion of flavors so inspired us that when we returned home we immediately went to work on [creating] a recipe.”

Angela prepares her own jerk seasoning as a marinade, and it’s this vibrant amalgam of spice, citrus and heat that makes the recipe so deliciously saucy! Notes of cinnamon, cayenne, garlic, sage and thyme pop from within a bath of vinegar, soy sauce and fresh lime juice. Oh, and did I mention the scotch bonnet peppers? We’re talking some serious sass.

“We came up with this after a whole lot of tweaking and taste testing. We have several dinner parties a year and we always serve our Jerk Chicken.”

As a cooling side, Angela’s husband created a mango salsa that plays perfectly alongside the kicky chicken.

“We love it served over the Jerk Chicken with black beans and rice and a sweet potato. And it is very convenient because it all mostly goes on the grill!

We LOVE spicy food in the Test Kitchen, but even we were reaching for water with this one. Feel free to adjust the amount of heat you add based on your family’s heat tolerance. (Remember, every pepper varies slightly in strength.) No matter the heat level, you can be sure that this is one caliente recipe!

Another creative hubby is heating things up with his once top secret grilling sauce. Pennsylvania’s Dana Ramsey and her husband recently won a Blue Ribbon for their outstanding recipe.

“This is my husband’s recipe and he finally gave it to me to share with all of you!” laughs Dana. “It is so yummy, I swear I could drink it right out of the container!”

Bibs optional but recommended, this sauce is as ooey gooey delicious as you can get. Dana recommends marinating pork or chicken in beer overnight then liberally applying the sauce, a finger licking mix of paprika, mustard, brown sugar, Worcestershire, chipotle peppers and other such deliciousness. Try it on steak, too!

Fear not fish fans, there’s magic in store for you too. What started as a simple experiment in Carmell Childs’ kitchen, quickly turned into the ultimate fish sandwich and one of our all-time favorite sammies.

“This recipe is the first fish sandwich that I have ever created,” recalls Carmell of her spicy creation. “Well, let me just say that I was so excited about the wonderful flavor combinations that I took it over to the neighbors to sample. After taste testing they asked for the recipe and the leftovers!!!”

The magic starts with a zesty citrus marinade jam-packed with the bold flavor of garlic, capers, steak seasoning and peperoncini peppers. After a quick dunk, the salmon is grilled to flaky perfection. At this point, the fish is delicious on its own. We just can’t resist adding the extra sandwich goodies, though. For sandwich nirvana, pile the salmon atop a crusty ciabatta roll and layer on fresh tomato, cucumber, lettuce and a slathering of Carmell’s homemade Ginger-Peperoncini Aioli. Then give yourself a quiet moment to enjoy… because this marinade and aioli are one fearsome duo!

Simple ingredients are behind each of these restaurant-worthy dishes. By starting with your favorite meat or vegetables you have a blank canvas on which to create your own magic. Whether it’s a marinade, salsa or creamy aioli, sauces are the paint in our kitchen toolkits. You bring the creativity, we’ll bring the napkins!