Thursday, April 23, 2020

Hot Sauce

There is no reason to buy hot sauce. The hot sauce you can make is easy, stupid cheap, and way better.

Step 1: What kind of chili do you want to work with? There are many. But preparation may matter more than type; in a way, it's like tea. Varieties of tea are different, but the way the tea is manipulated is the source of the most interesting flavors.  Mexico is to jalapenos as China is to tea: millenia of messing around with different preparations. And, I don't actually think that there is any serious debate: there is ONE PARTICULAR PREP that stands apart.

The kind of chili you want to work with is the MORITA. You're welcome, I saved you all that time. Moritas are a subtype of chipotle, but if you ask for chipotle powder you will NOT get Morita.  You want the whole Moritas, with stems on. They are smoked red-ripe jalapenos, and they retain a little softness and fruitiness.

Step 2:  Ingredients:
2 cups of chopped morita
1 apple, cored and chopped but peel on
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 cup water
Tablespoon of salt.
Honey or sugar to taste

Step 3:  Create
Heat a cast iron skillet, and put the whole dried moritas in the skillet. They will smoke a little, and swell up. Shake them around (no oil or water, just dry!). Remove them and put them on a cutting board. As soon as they are cool enough, remove the stems and the hard part where the stem connects, roughly chop the chiles. (I leave the seeds. But up to you. Seeds are hot, without much fruity or smoky flavor. But they do add some texture)

Put in a steep sided microwave safe bowl. Add the vinegar, water, salt, and apple, and stir around until everything is at least moistened. Cover with plastic wrap, and microwave for 3 minutes on high.

Remove from microwave and let sit for 10 minutes.  Then do that again, 3 minutes on high, let sit for 10 minutes. (The apple should be somewhat soft by now).

Use an immersion blender or food processor to reduce everything to a thick paste.

Add 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey, blend it in, and give a taste. Add more sweet or salt as suits you. And add more water if it is too thick.

Cover tightly and let sit in refrigerator for at least two days.

Stir up the mixture if it has settled. Go!

It works spooned on tacos, or in burritos. But it is also a great side sauce on eggs, or any kind of meat. And one of the best uses is as a marinade/cooking sauce on grilled chicken or grilled steak. It's thick enough that it will stick when you cook, and help create some great bark on the chicken skin. You immediately get a smoked flavor as if...well, you know. As if it the meat had been smoked.

A note of warning: this sauce is hot. It is not ketchup. The heat is a subtle, smoky, fruity hot, but it's still hot. Be cool with it. (I usually freeze about 2/3 of this batch, in two containers, so that I can thaw them and use them later).