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Sauce on the Side 

The biggest grilling weekend of the year is here - have you checked on the basics? Forget the charcoal and the buns for a moment. I'm wondering about your sauce. First of all, do you have any? Don't lie to me. You gotta have some sauce, baby, whether it's a marinade, a dipper or a condiment. Just for kicks, leave that bottle of stuff you bought at Kroger last year in the fridge. Humor me, and try something new that I'm confident will blow the roof off this year's festivities. When you make it yourself, the sauce sings. And when the sauce sings, the food goes ring-a-ding-ding. Wouldn't it be nice to actually enjoy the food you throw on the grill this summer?

Best of all, the two sauces below can be made in 20 minutes in a food processor and in advance. Try the rub as a marinade, the beautifully green chimichurri as a condiment/dipper.

Spiced and Spicy Jerk Rub

3 Scotch bonnet or habanero chile peppers, seeded and chopped
6 scallions, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons dark or amber rum (optional)
3 tablespoons ground allspice (also known as Jamaica pepper or pimento)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2-3 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, removed from stems

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. The mixture will be thick and pasty. Add a bit more oil if mixture is too thick. Use immediately for marinating or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, where mixture will keep for a few weeks.

Makes approximately 2 cups, enough for a whole chicken and then some, chicken thighs for six, or a five-pound pork tenderloin.

Chimichurri
Use as a condiment for grilled meat, fish or shrimp

4 cloves garlic
Handful parsley, stems removed, chopped
Handful cilantro, stems removed
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves (approximately 10 sprigs)
1/4-3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine or wine vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Coarse salt, to taste

With a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic with about 1/2 teaspoon salt. (Alternatively, puree in food processor.) Add the rest of the ingredients and taste for salt; adjust for seasonings. Sauce should be intense in flavor with piquant, salty notes.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups, enough for dipping for a sauce-lusty party of five. Will keep in refrigerator in airtight container for about two days.

- Kim O'Donnel

Culinary questions? Reach CL's Kitchen Witch at kim.odonnel@creativeloafing.com.

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