March 10th, 2009 — 12:00am
It’s really, really easy.
I used to do it all the time and haven’t in about a year, but when I went to Gerbes to pick up milk and cilantro and decided to make this tonight. (Don’t you hate when you forget things, or you know, when you watch your milk fall in slow motion towards the concrete and shatter. I wanted to cry.)
Anyway, the habaneros they had in the basket weren’t terribly wrinkly and gross like usual, so I grabbed… 8? cost 99 cents. Got a lime, an onion, already had my carrots and tomato, and was good to go.
Brittany has started keeping a pen and paper near the kitchen, and I should too cause this is all a guess.
I should mention this though most of you probably know this. When you handle any pepper (besides bell), you should take care not to touch any sensitive part of your skin, eyes, nose, etc. If you want, wear gloves. I’m just really careful. If you make this stuff in big batches, take note: as you cook the sauce, the pepper will release some capsaicin into the air with the steam, creating a similar effect to being maced or pepper sprayed. Same thing happens if you throw ground pepper on a hot pan. It’s about the worst feeling ever, and takes several minutes to clear out the kitchen, and the entire time your lungs burn. Cook on low heat, and avoid breathing deeply over the pot to minimize this side effect. Also, using chilies lower on the scoville heat unit scale would help.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: approx 20 minutes
- Mince onion, carrot, tomato, two habaneros (don’t use the seeds unless you want your ass handed to you) and two sprigs of cilantro. Throw into small pot.
- Cut a lime in half, juice both sides into the pot.
- Dash in some apple cider vinegar (helps it keep fresh, also is slightly sweeter than white vinegar). I’d say a tablespoon or two is good. If you can smell it overpowering everything else in the pot, you put in too much
- Liberal amounts of salt, probs at least 2 tablespoons. It’s a condiment, can’t really be too salty.
- Add some more spice in, just to keep it flavorful. Cumin, ground coriander, chili powder, some cayenne to back up the heat, whatever you wanna do. Also, it might be easier to use garlic powder (gasp!) instead of legit garlic cloves, since it’ll spread the flavor around easier.
- Cook it covered on medium low to low heat for anywhere from 10-20 minutes, you basically want it to thicken up and break down some of the tougher ingredients (read: carrots). If you have xantham gum or anything like it (I used cornstarch, though that’s not the best way of going about it), that can also thicken it up. Stir occasionally.
- If you have a food processor, and want it smoother, feel free to pop it in. I do not own one, and my blender wouldn’t do anything with 6 ounces of liquid besides laugh at me and make weird smells.
- Put it in a container and refrigerate it. On the safe side, I’ll bet it keeps for 2 weeks, though depending on how much vinegar you use, maybe more? My family genes gave me near invincibility, (with the exception of allergies that exist only in Missouri) so I don’t worry about bacteria nearly as much as I should. (I’m kidding Mom. Safety first!)
Now, this is not any official way to make your own sauce, it just came out of me playing in the kichen over the last two years. Again, a cuisinart would make this job much easier. If anyone has any tips, leave em in the comments.
The same theory could be applied to jalapeños, serrano, ancho, chiles de arbol, thai chilis or cayenne. Also, you could fool around with adding different fruits such as peaches (consider roasting them and pairing with chipotle to give it smokey flavor). Mango would also be quite nice with the habs. Luckily all these ingredients are pretty cheap unless you are buying mass quantity, and allow for experimentation. Once you get it right, it becomes much cheaper to make your own sauce in greater quantity than the bottle at the store.
For the record, my favorite bottled sauces are by far Lizano (not spicy, just amazing flavor) Cholula (uses piquin and de arbol chilies) Melinda’s (Extra and Regular) and Sontava. My forays into hot sauce making are simply my attempts at reverse engineering such wonderful flavors as these, without paying a dollar an ounce (in some cases). If you ever need a hot sauce, I HIGHLY recommend Dave’s Pepper Palace in Spring, TX. I’ve actually been there, tried about 10 different sauces, sweated a few pounds, and it was totally worth it. Spent 30 bucks on hot sauce, including a huge bottle of Lizano that I’ve savored for almost a year (it’s imported from Costa Rica). I believe they ship domestically too. Give em a call.