I needed a quick but satisfying dinner one night. I had chicken breast I needed to use, and some Chinese broccoli, but not much else. Using some pantry staples, I threw together a surprisingly tasty, sophisticated-tasting sauce of lemon, capers and vermouth, for a simply sautéed chicken breasts. I paired them with roasted potatoes and a quick garlicky stir-fry of Chinese broccoli; regular broccoli or broccoli rabe would work just fine.
I like having a cooking liquor or two on hand, exactly for times like this. (And I make sure I do!) Dry vermouth, a fortified wine with aromatics, is a good choice; so is cream sherry or amontillado. They are a little sweeter (even when it’s called “dry”) and more complex than wine, and instantly adds a magically satisfying body to simple dishes. Since a little goes a long way, they aren’t necessarily expensive. The best part is that unlike wine, they don’t go bad, so I have no pressure to “use up” an open bottle.
Sautéed Chicken Breast with Lemon Caper Vermouth Sauce
DASH considerations: A simple sauteed chicken breast gets a tangy and subtly sweet upgrade from lemon juice and a dash of vermouth, while the occasional briny pop of the capers adds another dimension to this easy but surprisingly sophisticated-tasting dish. Pairing it with sauteed broccoli pushes up the meal’s fat content, so a salad might be a better idea for people following DASH diet closely.
In Frankfurt, green sauce (grune sosse or grüne soße in German) is ubiquitous. The somewhat tartar-like sauce with a ton of herbs magically manages to be refreshing and hearty at the same time. Simple boiled vegetables like potatoes and broccoli get a serious upgrade with a dollop or two of this stuff–add a slice or two of ham, and you have a complete, satisfying meal. In this adapted version, I use common ingredients (think Greek yogurt instead of quark) and fewer herbs (bye bye, borage and burnet), but the bright, herby and hearty sauce comes out pretty close to the real deal.
A few years ago, we spent a couple of nights in Frankfurt on the way to and from a year-end vacation in Paris. One night, we went to an apfelwein inn where we sat on a communal bench, elbow-to-elbow with locals and tourists alike, drinking from a beautiful ceramic jug of the German hard cider. It was a cold winter night but inside the warm, steamy inn, the atmosphere was jovial and convivial, just as I’d imagine an old roadside inn serving locals and travelers hundreds of years ago.
I had a giant plate of schnitzel with boiled potatoes, topped with a local green sauce. A delightfully bright, herby and creamy sauce made with (I guessed) sour cream and a ton of herbs, the sauce was a perfect accompaniment to the earthy potatoes and hearty schnitzel. Apfelwein kept flowing, our tummies got full, and we trekked back to our hotel happy and satiated.
When Hubby picked up a can of genuine apfelwein from a beer store nearby, all this fond memory came back, and I had to make some schnitzel with this green sauce to go with the cider. I got a-Googling. As it turned out, the Frankfurt-style green sauce contains a hard boiled egg, which gives the sauce a subtle savory body and extra richness, similar to how boiled eggs work in tartar sauce.
I also found out that the green sauce calls for quite a few types of herbs, some of which I hadn’t even heard of. Since I didn’t want to end up with a fridge full of wilting herbs, I decided to get just a couple: Watercress, which is easy to consume in a salad; parsley, which can go into a stock or chimichurri sauce; and chives, which is totally versatile. Despite the omissions, the sauce came out pretty close to what I remembered. I love this sauce!
Bright, Herby Frankfurter Green Sauce
DASH considerations: The Frankfurter green sauce might not be particularly great when seen from the DASH perspective. It does somewhat depend on what you compare it to, though: As a substitute for straight sour cream, for instance, this is a much lighter version with less fat and sneaky addition of greens. However, you wouldn't be eating a cup of this stuff, so it's kind of, sort of, negligible in the grand scheme of things...
DASH servings (for 2 tablespoon of the green sauce):
I would just count it as 1/2 serving of fat and maaaaaybe 1/4 serving of vegetables. The rest ends up being pretty miniscule.
Boil, cool and peel the egg. Chop the egg roughly.
In a tall-sided bowl (I used the plastic container that came with my immersion blender), combine the egg, sour cream, Greek yogurt, watercress, parsley, chives and lemon juice. Using an immersion blender, blend until the ingredients form a more or less uniform, smooth mixture. (Add the extra virgin olive oil along with all the other ingredients, if using.)
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
There are so many possibilities with this sauce:
The first night, I served it traditional, with boiled potatoes, broccoli and a chicken schnitzel (that uses mustard instead of an egg as the coating agent, a neat trick I learned from Blue Apron).
It’s fantastic as a sandwich spread. I made a ham sandwich with cucumber and lettuce on bread smeared with this sauce for a hiking lunch, and it was glorious.
It would be lovely on top of potato pancakes, in place of sour cream.
We made a tasty New Year’s Eve appetizer of smoked salmon and cucumber on crackers with a dollop of the green sauce. Nom nom!