Sep 28, 2010

Flavor--Depth--Heat--Blast Off! A Hot Sauce Adventure

My brother Dan can make anything--soap, curtains, dog food, a basement. And culinary delights, too. My favorite Thanksgiving is when he brings a fully cooked and stuffed Heritage turkey. In a past life he was a bartender, and in another, a tofu maker. He also makes music. He played keyboard for the Original Sins and he still does a lot of musical stuff.

Dan's lovely wife Elaine brought me a bottle of his hot sauce last week and we tried it on Saturday night. Everyone in the Dream Kitchen family likes hot sauce, and we put Brother Dan's on some quesadillas I made using Amish pepper jack cheese, CSA tomatoes, and yellow peppers.

Right away you could taste that deep habanero pepper flavor and a vinegar tartness. A few bites later---"GET ME SOME BREAD!!! RIGHT NOW!!!!" from one of my sons. (He has this kind of taste adventure every week with hot sauce. Either there's no learning curve, or he likes drama. I'm going to go with the latter explanation.) So we learned to take it easy, but it's a great hot sauce with depth and flavor in addition to the heat.

Brother Dan is not a recipe kind of guy. So when I asked him how made the sauce, I knew I wouldn't get a precise list of ingredients and procedures. Here's how to make it, in the words of Brother Dan:

It's all home-grown peppers. I just threw in what was ripe - about six habanero peppers. Just cut them in half - carefully! You want to avoid touching anything but the skin. Some people choose to use gloves when working with the habaneros, but I just avoid touching the innards. It's the insides, the seeds and the whitish pulpy stuff, that's the hottest.

Threw them in with some Bragg's apple cider vinegar (which is REALLY good), a few bulbs of raw peeled garlic, a fair amount of salt (the stuff can be salty, since it's a condiment), and some carrots, and enough water to cover it all. The carrots give it some body and sweetness, and the vinegar adds flavor and helps preserve the sauce (as does the salt).

I cooked it in a pressure cooker for a while - at the very least, you want it simmering in a covered saucepan. The steam can be very irritating to the lungs and eyes. And, after it's all cooked, I use a hand-held blender to puree it well.There you go!! It's good stuff - easy to make, too.

We at The Dream Kitchen will have to peek into Brother Dan's larder more often, where there is always somethin' good.