Gettin’ Saucy

Since the mid-’80s, grocery stores have featured rotisserie chicken — made famous by Boston Market — and recently more and more restaurants are offering the same. In fact, the tender, rotating chicken is considered a food trend for 2013. 

On many occasions, it’s “what’s for dinner.” Its convenience and superb taste make it difficult to pass it up and bake a bird from scratch — I know mine never turn out as delicious. With the juicy chicken on hand, the only important decisions left to make are which wine and what sauce.

Chef Jeff Nizlek of Silver Grille in Silverton appreciates — and has perfected — the most tender of tenders and is also serious about his sauces; add to that his passion for wine, and you have a trifecta of foodie fun that inspired the following collection of recipes. This trio of handcrafted condiments will have your dinner guests convinced you made the entire meal — chicken and all. Nizlek has also included wine pairings, too, making planning even simpler.



“Since this sauce is made with red wine, it can be paired with almost any full-bodied red. For good value, I like Owen Roe Rosa Mystica Cab Franc or the Sineann Abondante. For the money, though, 2009 Bethel Heights Estate Reserve or 2010 Carter Vineyards Pinot Noir would be my choice.” Jeff Nizlek


2 cups red wine

1 shallot, chopped

12 ounces mushrooms (shiitake, oyster, cremini, etc.)

8 ounces bacon, thick slice or slab, cut into lardons

1 clove garlic

1 cup demi-glace or reduced veal or chicken stock

1 tablespoon soy sauce

3 sprigs thyme

2 ounces olive oil

* salt and pepper, to taste

Note: There are a number of different companies that now produce a true demi-glace and fond de veau and should be obtainable at Whole Foods, etc. Use your favorite mushrooms or whatever is currently in season. 


1. De-stem mushrooms, and cut into ¼-inch strips; toss with soy sauce, 1 ounce olive oil, and salt and pepper in a bowl. Place on a non-stick sheet pan and roast in a 350°F oven for 15 minutes, or until pieces are nicely caramelized on the edges.  

2. Scrape mushrooms into a strainer set over a bowl; gently press out mushroom liquid with the back of a spoon. Set liquid and mushrooms aside.

3. Place a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, and add remaining olive oil, heating for 2 minutes to allow for maximum heat. Add bacon to pan, and fry on all sides until crisp. (Bacon can be roasted in oven.) Remove bacon from pan, and drain off all but 1 tablespoon fat. Over medium heat, add shallots and garlic to bacon fat, cooking briefly until translucent. 

4. Deglaze with mushroom liquid, and reduce until the pan is nearly dry. Add red wine, and reduce to ¼ cup, or until syrupy. Add demi-glace, and reduce until sauce coats the back of a spoon (nappe). If desired, strain through a fine-mesh strainer.  

5. Finally, add the reserved bacon and mushrooms, heating over a low flame. Add leaves of thyme sprigs (avoid any branches) to the sauce. Allow the sauce to infuse for about 15 minutes over low heat; check seasoning, and adjust with salt and pepper. Serves 4.



“This will pair with almost any Pinot Gris because of the wine’s acidity, so pick your favorite one.” JN  


8 ounces tomato, peeled, seeded, diced

2 cups chicken stock 

2 ounces sherry vinegar

2 ounces Pinot Gris

4 ounces extra virgin olive oil

1 shallot, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 ounces oil-cured black olives, pitted and cut into rings 

2 ounces green olives, pitted and cut into rings

3 basil leaves, cut in chiffonade

4 parsley leaves, cut in chiffonade 

1 teaspoon spice blend (recipe follows)

* salt and pepper, to taste


1. Pass tomatoes through a strainer or food mill and into a bowl. Set aside.

2. Heat a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, and add 1 tablespoon olive oil to coat bottom of pan. When heated thoroughly, add shallots, stirring for 1 minute; then add garlic, stirring to avoid any over-caramelizing. Add spice blend, stirring for 30 seconds to “bloom” (or to bring out aromatics of) spices. Deglaze with sherry vinegar, and reduce until dry; then add white wine, and reduce until dry, as well.  

3. Add chicken stock, and reduce until syrupy (about 2 ounces); remove from heat. Add tomato pulp, and warm over low heat. When ready to serve, add olives, herbs and extra virgin olive oil; remove from heat, and allow 5 minutes for flavors to infuse. Serves 4.


1 tablespoon coriander seed

1 tablespoon fennel seed

4 cumin seeds

* pinch red chili flakes


1. Warm spices over low heat in a heavy-bottomed pan for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Grind spices in a spice grinder until very fine. Store in a well-sealed container.



“This is a multi-faceted sauce, but my favorite selection for this is the 2010 St. Innocent Oeil de Perdrix Pinot Noir Blanc, not exactly a rosé but a very nice pairing.” JN


1 ounce olive oil

2 shallots, finely diced

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

1 tablespoon flour (or ½ tablespoon corn starch)

2 tablespoons curry powder

1 cup coconut milk

1 Granny Smith apple (or other tart variety), peeled and diced 

1 banana, chopped

1 quart chicken stock

* bouquet garni

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tomato, peeled and chopped

1 cup Greek yogurt

* salt, pepper, cayenne, cilantro, to taste

Note: Making this sauce the day before allows all flavors to be well developed. If possible, use a freshly made curry powder at home, or purchase as fresh a curry powder as possible. You can substitute a Thai-style curry paste if desired, but be careful of heat. Makes 1 quart.


1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over high heat, sweat shallots in olive oil until translucent. Reduce heat to medium, and add garlic, stirring gently for 30 seconds. Add flour and curry powder, stirring over medium heat for 1 minute to bloom the curry and “cook out” the flour.

2. Add coconut milk, apple, banana, chicken stock, bouquet garni, tomato paste and tomato to pan and bring to boil over high heat, stirring frequently. When sauce has come to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook slowly for 1 hour, until thickened and reduced to 4 cups.

3. Remove from heat, and cool to room temperature before puréeing. (This allows flavors to develop and gives sauce a brighter appearance.) Purée well for smoothness; pass through a fine mesh sieve for even finer texture.

4. Test for seasoning, and adjust with salt, pepper, cayenne or tabasco, cilantro or other herbs, etc. Fold in yogurt, and chill for 1 hour, or up to 24 hours before serving. 

Jeff Nizlek’s travels and experience have shaped his distinctive views of food, which are reflected in his ever-evolving menu choices and signature style — fresh and savory Willamette Valley cuisine — at the Silver Grille, 206 E. Main Street, Silverton.

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