Wednesday, September 09, 2009

STAY HUNGRY - Hot sauce

Hi and welcome to our program - STAY HUNGRY. Today we're making hot sauce. Although I've posted recipes for hot sauce before on Flickr, today's batch represented yet another variation, and I think it came out really well. Good consistency, gorgeous color, and yeah shit it's hot.

I didn't have a garden this year - not even a little bit, not at all - and so I ganged up with my friend Travelin' Jack O'Dell, monster drummer, expert handyman, improvisational gardener. Jack brought habaneros and little Thai chilis from his garden, and I had some big red jalapenos from the Asian supermarket.

That's Jack. Jack says, "WEAR GLOVES."

The first thing we did was to lay out the habs and the Jalapenos on baking sheets. I figured the Thais were too little, but in retrospect, maybe I should have roasted them too. Dialled the oven to 350° and let them roast until they started to char a little. Roasting the chilis improves the consistency A LOT and I think gives the hot sauce a richer, less acid flavor.

Meanwhile, we cut the stems off the Thai chilis, slit them down the middle, and scraped out the seed clusters. The seeds carry most of the heat, and besides they make the hot sauce hard to pour if they end up in there at the end.

Once the peppers come out of the oven, stem and seed them too. Larger peppers, like the jalapenos, can be peeled at the same time. Why? I had a reason why last time I did this, but now I can't remember why.

ARE YOU WEARING GLOVES? If you're not now, it's too late. Do not touch your eyes, your nose, your children, your hoo-ha, your Juan Pedrosa. Wash thoroughly with soap and water. Maybe rub baking soda on your hands. Rub your hands on stainless steel. Hell, bury your hands in the back yard and say "There's no place like home" over them three times. Won't make no difference. Just pretend you don't have hands for a while.

I dissolved about 4T of brown sugar and 1 1/2 T of salt in 4 cups white vinegar. I added 1/2 t of methi seeds (browned in a skillet and pulverized in the mortar and pestle), and about half an inch of fresh ginger, grated. I'll assert that sugar in some form is necessary, and a little salt, and of course the vinegar, but the rest is up to you.

The peppers went into le blender, with enough of the vinegar mixture to almost cover them. You may have to blend the peppers in more than one batch. Liquefy this until it looks like tomato juice. When the fumes from the blender brought tears to Jack's eyes, I figured we'd better try and back the heat off a little, so we put half a pineapple in, too. I have a sinus infection, so I was no judge.

Pour the puree into a stainless steel pot. Cook over a very low flame for - well, we did 4 hours today, but I've certainly gone longer. The consistency was very good so that's why we stopped. Any thicker and it might have been a problem pouring, although you can dilute with water as you're bottling if things have gotten really sticky.

We strained the cooled puree through a wire strainer, forcing the pulp through with a rubber scraper. Jack poured the sauce into the special little hot sauce bottles, using the special little hot sauce funnel (new this year and worth all 155 pennies!), and all of a sudden we had 10 bottle of glowing red-orange hearts of chili!

I scraped the seeds-and-skin pulp that was left in the strainer onto a piece of tin foil and popped it into a 200 degree oven. Once it dries, we'll peel it off the foil, break it up, and use it on pizza.

*(Linked photos are from a previous hot sauce escapade. Note the horrible old kitchen! Finished product photos are from this escapade. Note swanky new kitchen!)