Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Habanero Hot Sauce!

I know it's winter and all, but I found these beautiful habanero chilis at the grocery store and was smitten by the fact that their colors ranged all the way from deep green to brilliant crimson. So, I grabbed* a big handful and headed home to make something really, really spicy.

Now that I have a food blog, I find myself worrying about how to photograph my efforts. Therefore, I wound-up spending half an hour futzing around with these stupid peppers to create a presentable photo opportunity for them. This is the best I could come up with, something I call The Spiral of Pain. Yep. I'll never get that half-hour of my life back, will I?

Making the sauce was extremely simple. First, I roasted the chilis under a broiler until they had some appealing black spots. Why? Because roasty things always taste better than non-roasty things; it's a fundamental law of physics. That's why.

Then I put the hot, roasted chilis in a blender with a few cloves of garlic, a teaspoon or two of salt and a splash of apple cider vinegar. I blended them into a smooth puree, stopping periodically to scrape the sides of the blender jar down with a rubber spatula**. As it smoothed-out and thickened-up, I added a bit more vinegar toward the end to loosen-up the consistency and preserve it better.


I know this would be great with the addition of some mango, peach or other fruit puree. I'll give that a shot next time, but for now I'm enjoying -- sparingly -- the distinct fruity burn of the noble habanero on its own.

* Word to the wise: Don't actually grab these things with your bare hands, because sooner or later you'll touch some tender part of yourself and the capsaisin oils on your skin will make you sad. (Buy me a beer and ask me how many times/in which places I've learned this lesson.) Here's my trick at the store: Turn a produce bag inside-out and put it over your hand like a glove. Grab a big 'ol fistfull of your chosen chilis then turn the bag outside-out by lifting the bag opening up while pulling your hand down. Now the chilis are in the bag and you never even touched the nasty buggers.

** Guess what? Hot-from-the-broiler habanero chilis, blended with vinegar, create a fierce steamy vapor in the blender that smells -- if you're stupid enough to stick your nose in there -- like a cross between Tabasco sauce and tear gas, yet feels like snorting lines of napalm. Again, ask me how I know.