I wasn’t really sure how I felt about this when I started. The only time I have had capers was in a veal or a chicken dish, typically with some sort of lemon sauce. Those dishes are wonderful but I never said “hey, wow, I have to have capers again!”
I belong to a closed group on Facebook called Culinary Capers. We take turns choosing an ingredient of the week and this week that ingredient was capers.
I haven’t been active for a while due to some extenuating circumstances and I haven’t had much desire to do much of anything. My get up and go, got up and went. Today however was beautiful…scratch that, I mean gorgeous, for a January day. We went to the annual boat show to look at a boat we’ve had our eyes on for a while. Between the beautiful weather and visions of summers on the water running through my head, this put me in just the right mood to attack a kitchen challenge.
I love the windows open when I cook but rarely do I have just the right conditions to make this happen. In the south, or at least where I live, its either very cold (for a few short weeks) or very hot (for way too many weeks), neither of which is conducive to opening the house up for a good airing. So, with windows open and a gentle breeze blowing through my kitchen I searched the fridge and pantry to see what we had available to mess with and this is what I came up with.
I started with the bottle of capers in my hand. Looking in the fridge I saw some tomatoes but not enough to make a meal. That’s when I set my sights on the tomato paste in a tube resting in the door. A bright tomato cream sauce would be similar to a lemony concoction, thus making it a perfect match for the capers.
I didn’t want to do the usual fish and lemon combo so I found pasta to be the appropriate canvas for this sauce. I will admit that I didn’t choose the pasta until I finished my creation. After all, capers were to take center stage and I needed to make them shine before I decided what to put them on…its kinda like choosing the right self tanner, you know? Should I go to an expensive salon and have them put on the stuff that’s made specifically for a pale skinned pasty chick like me, … the one that gets naturally “dark white” by the end of summer or should I do the usual and buy the drug store kind that makes me look like I just rolled in a bag of Cheetos?
Sometimes when you cook you have to know the difference. The other important tid bit here is knowing when to step off the ledge a little. Everyone expects capers on fish or veal with a decadent lemony sauce. Sometimes just sometimes you have to crawl out on the ledge and test the direction of the wind… today I did just that and when I thought I hadn’t reached perfection I crawled a little further.
I will tell you that this recipe is not for everyone…only those that have tried capers and like their briny very unusual taste. Its the sauce you try in a restaurant and say “Wow, that’s different but tasty!” “What’s in it?”
Anyway here is the recipe if you care to give it a whirl. I served it over orzo and although we had London broil for dinner, this would have been a perfect sauce for chicken.
I started with 1 cup of heavy cream in the pot and added 1 cup of beef broth over medium heat. I started to think it would be too bland so I plopped in about a tablespoon of sour cream and stirred. Next I added a tablespoon of tomato paste from a tube and a tablespoon and a half of Dijon mustard. Amore is the brand of tomato paste I use. It was still lacking flavor and color so I added another tablespoon of tomato paste. That was better. I thinly sliced up the five small green onions that I had in the vegetable drawer and dropped them in as I felt it lacked complexity and was rather one dimensional…I know it sounds like a crock, but seriously shut your eyes, taste and you will know what I mean.
After a few minutes on the heat it was very oniony and well, still too tangy. I added the capers thinking now is the time…it will add the needed salt to curb the tang. It did, so I added the roasted red peppers and one tablespoon of butter to smooth out the taste. I added 1 teaspoon of kosher salt to balance it out and two tablespoons of corn starch to thicken. It was still one sided… it needed something to take the edge off. It needed to be toned down with a sweetener. Honey and tomato’s? I think not and sugar seemed so, well, not right…I took a quick scan in the refrigerator, ah ha oranges! So I squeezed about a 1/2 cup of the secret ingredient into the pot and perfection!
The best part? The briny capers were still front stage and the other flavors just melded together perfectly. I served it over the orzo first….Mmmmm delicious.
Then I tried topping a few pieces of London broil and although it was good I do think a pan seared chicken breast would have been a better base. Enjoy!