What if there was no Thanksgiving? What if there were no taste memories associated with stuffing and family? What does pumpkin pie mean to someone from Spain? What if "Ants on a Log" was not a staple snack both after school and gussied up for holidays? We work in a realm of constant comparison and association. What if we tried to strip away some of these thoughts and just looked at the ingredients by themselves? Is this even possible?
As timing and coincidence are kissing cousins, these questions came about after I worked out a new sauce. The sauce consists of celery leaves, golden raisins and Chartreuse. In the first version of the sauce, I soaked the golden raisins in Chartreuse and then pureed the mixture with blanched celery leaves. A pinch of salt brought out the flavors and married the sauce. Unfortunately, the raw Chartreuse ended up being a bit hot. The alcohol on the palate became distracting and if that was not enough of a sign, the sauce began to darken the alcohol actually caused the celery leaves to discolor changing from vibrant green to olive. In order to polish this sauce, we made a few adjustments. We made a chartreuse syrup which is a slow reduction of Chartreuse which cooks out most of the alcohol and concentrates the essence of the herbal liquor. We blanched the celery leaves and then reserved the celery infused blanching water to both hydrate the raisins and loosen the puree so it became a smooth vibrant sauce. In order to keep everything well chilled during the pureeing process we actually freeze the raisins and some of the celery water so that the entire mixture stays ice cold. To finish the sauce, we strain the mixture and then just before serving it we add a few drops of the Chartreuse syrup. The Chartreuse is the key. The trick is to add it at the end so that all elements of the sauce come together at their peak.