Saturday, September 29, 2012

Spicy Saturday!

Confession: I like to surprise Brittany with really spicy food.. sometimes to her delight, usually to my demise. A pinch of red hot pepper flakes can go a long way in a dish, but apparently a tablespoon on a pizza slice will wreak havoc on taste buds. Who knew?

To help fuel my devilish activities I decided to leverage one of my favorite sauces - homemade roasted habañero hot sauce - and even convinced my lady to help me make it! Conditions were perfect: a lazy Saturday morning, a bag full of home grown habañero, pimiento, cayenne, and jalapeño peppers courtesy of my coworker Valerie, and an insatiable thirst for fire. 

We started out by lighting the grill up and washing the peppers down while everything warmed up. After a couple minutes I laid out each pepper on the grill and closed the lid, letting them roast in the hot environ over the open flame. 

 Wicked colors, ready to burn!

Roasted pepper carnage.

At this point, many of the peppers were starting to both blacken and soften up. A few even popped as the gasses expanded from the heat of the grill, spraying seed guts over fellow unsuspecting peppers.

 My dutiful helper, critiquing my choice of shoes, no doubt

As the peppers finished up I pulled them off the grill into a metal bowl which Brittany covered in saran wrap. The humidity from the cooling peppers helped loosen up the charred skins, making it easier for us to remove the unwanted burned parts. I wish this trick also worked when I grilled chicken...

We then used a paper towel to help remove the burned skin. Ultimately, we found that just rubbing our fingers on the burned portions worked the best. PRO TIP: use latex gloves when handling hot peppers! Your eyes, nose, and other unmentionable body parts will thank you later...

 After all the peppers had [most of] their burned skin removed we placed them in my fancy Cuisinart food processor. I gave it a few quick pulses to break up the meat of the peppers and evenly distribute the seeds before we started adding the next ingredients: garlic, vinegar, salt, black pepper, water, and a whole onion followed next. Once it was all combined and well mixed, I poured the sauce into a pot and let it simmer for ~45 minutes.

It almost looks like magma, doesn't it?

Second confession: I have a problem hording old jars and bottles. In this instance, it actually worked out. I rounded up a handful of small jars and proceeded to soak them in a bleach/hot water mixture to help sanitize and remove the labels. Once thoroughly cleaned and rinsed, I partially filled several bottles to share with friends and coworkers and put them straight into the refrigerator. No food borne illnesses here - just pure, unadulterated heat!

Valerie's Vicious Vitriol 
Yield: ~1 liter of pain

11 habañero peppers
4 pimiento peppers
10 cayenne peppers
3 jalapeño peppers
4 cloves of garlic
1 white onion, chopped
2 cups of vinegar
2 cups of water
1/2 Tbs of salt
1/4 Tbs of pepper

(summary of blog post above)
- Roast peppers over open flame until blackened.
- Cool in a metal bowl covered in saran wrap until cool to the touch.
- Pull off most of the charred surface from the peppers. A little leftover will give you a smokey flavor.
- Place peppers into food processor and pulse several times.
- Add garlic, onion, salt, pepper to food processor and blend until well.. uh.. blended.
- Pour into a small pot, add water and vinegar
- Simmer for 45 minutes
- Cool, and pour into clean, awesome old jars.

Warning: Spiciness will vary based on the peppers used. Any of the above peppers can be swapped for other peppers, but I prefer more habañeros for their flavor and heat index (Scoville scale). I've also used home grown bird's eye chili peppers before that waged war on all things sacred on my tongue, so just be careful. :)


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