On The Sauce | VailDaily.com

On The Sauce

Brighten up the dinner table with a flavorful, vibrant sauce atop your favorite go-to standards like grilled meats and veggies

By Kim Fuller and Wren Bova – Photography by Dominique Taylor

Sometimes, just doing whatever it takes to get out the door in the morning feels like something that deserves a medal. So by the time dinner rolls around, you’re on autopilot. If you want to bring something new to the table, but don’t have the energy to dive into an entirely new cooking technique, try mixing things up with a sauce or three. Local chefs weigh in with their favorite sauces, most of which can be made in the blender.

Chimichurri Sauce
from Charles Hays,
chef-partner at Vin48

A father of two, Charles Hays spends a good bit of his summer in the garden. Anyone who’s had his braised pork cheeks at the restaurant can attest to his mastery of low-slow cooking to tease out the most luscious flavor. But a counterpart to all of that time and flavor is a light, bright, herb-centric sauce.

“I like chimichurris and pestos,” he says. “You don’t need stock, or special ingredients. Just vinegar, olive oil and herbs from your garden.”

Chimichurri can be used as a marinade, a spread and a finishing sauce. Hays usually makes them off the top of his head, depending on what’s on hand.

“Basically, you pick some herbs, chop some garlic — though I like a lot — then put a little acid in there,” he says. “I like red wine vinegar, but of course you could always use lemon juice.”

And a good olive oil doesn’t hurt.

“You can make a big batch and sit on it for a week,” he adds.

It will probably mellow a little, but just add a little more acid to brighten it up. 


½ cup red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

4 garlic cloves, chopped

¾ cup of soft green herbs, minced (any combination of cilantro, parsley, oregano, etc…)

¾ cup olive oil 

  Mix vinegar, salt, garlic and herb together.

  Using a fork, whisk in oil. Taste and adjust seasoning. Use as marinade, spread or finishing sauce. Especially good on grilled meat.


Muhammara Spread

from Hunter Chamness,

chef-owner of Boxcar of Boxcar Restaurant in Avon

Hunter Chamness likes this Middle Eastern-inspired spread for its versatility.

“It can easily replace hummus for a more flavorful spread, or be used for grilled meats and fish,” he says. “I like to use it with the pâtés and sausages that we serve in the restaurant.”


3 large bell peppers, roasted and peeled (frozen can work too)

1 cup scallions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 Tbsp lemon juice

1 Tbsp cumin, toasted and ground

1 Tbsp salt

2 Tbsp verjus (pomegranate juice can be substituted) 

2 tsp Aleppo pepper (crushed red pepper can be substituted) 

10 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 cup walnuts, toasted

Panko if needed for consistency

1. In a food processor, add roasted red peppers, scallions, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, verjus, 1 Tbsp Aleppo pepper, ½ cup extra virgin olive oil and ½ cup walnuts. Puree until smooth and taste for seasoning. Add more Aleppo pepper if you want more spice. If the spread seems too thin, add panko to desired consistency.

2. Place in a serving container and finish with the remaining 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil and walnuts, crushed in your hands and sprinkled on top.


Anticucho Sauce

from Brian Busker, 

executive chef of Matsuhisa Vail

Brian Busker says this sauce is the most popular application on the Matsuhisa Vail menu, served with the lamb chop anticucho dish. Servers in the restaurant describe the spice-forward and tangy anticucho as a Peruvian barbecue sauce.

“Anticucho itself refers to grilled skewered beef hearts in Peru, usually served as a street food,” explains Busker. “They marinate it in a vinegar-based sauce, containing aji panca — a mildly spicy chile from Peru — vinegar, garlic, cumin and oregano before grilling.”

It is usually finished with a yellow sauce containing aji amarillo, a spicy yellow Peruvian chile.

“Our take at Matsuhisa is utilizing this sauce on our lamb chops and our kushiyakis — Japanese skewers — and fusing these cultures together as Nobu has inspired us to do,” Busker adds.

Editor’s note: Though aji panca puree can be easily sourced through Amazon, domestic substitutions include pasilla and ancho peppers. The pasilla is less berry-like in flavor and can be a touch spicier, but it’s pretty close. The ancho (the dried form of the poblano) is smokier and earthier, but has the same mild heat. 


3 Tbsp aji panca puree

¼ cup red wine vinegar

½ Tbsp dried oregano

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 Tbsp finely grated garlic

1 ½ tsp ground cumin

2 Tbsp grapeseed oil

  In blender, place all ingredients except oil and process until smooth.

  Add oil slowly while blender is running. Use as a marinade or as a finishing sauce.


Honey Horseradish

from Riley Romanin,
chef-owner of Hooked and Revolution in Beaver Creek

This sauce was inspired from a sweet chili glaze. It’s simple, and can also be topped with blue cheese for a more savory and salty component on steak, for example.

“While developing the menu, we began to brainstorm what would be a great low fat, vegan sauce that would be amazing with many cuts of meat,” says Riley Romanin. “Our minds drifted towards sweet chili sauce and we thought ‘let’s create our own steak-friendly version,’ and what makes a better steak condiment than horseradish?”

This is the sauce that gives Revolution’s cubanetta — a porchetta Cuban sandwich — the sweet mustardy kick that keeps guests asking for more.  

1 cups honey 

1 cups apple cider vinegar

4 Tbsp mustard seeds

½ cup freshly grated horseradish *don’t use prepared horseradish*

  Place all ingredients in non-reactive sauce pot and reduce by half. Chill and reserve in refrigerator.

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