September 19, 2012 § 5 Comments
Peppers. Vinegar. Salt.
If you are from Louisiana, you have strong feelings about hot sauce. Lester is from Louisiana. While the outside world may think that Tabasco is the king of hot sauce because of its strong brand familiarity and market presence around the country, we personally (and many others from around New Orleans) find it too vinegary and prefer the stronger pepper taste and decreased sourness of Crystal. Look at the label: Crystal lists “aged cayenne peppers, distilled vinegar, salt.” That’s it. In that order. That means the peppers outweigh the vinegar. In Tabasco, vinegar comes first. So on this family’s table, you are going to find a bottle of Crystal every time. Or would, if they sold Crystal up here… That’s the problem with a Southern boy falling in love with a wannabe-New-Englander, and I owe him forever for dragging him up here and away from the land of crawfish boils. So when the CSA offered up some gorgeous hot peppers (“take as many as you like”), I set out to create something that even if it isn’t the same taste of home, is at least a hot sauce just the way we like it.
Peppers Come First Hot Sauce
based on Emeril’s recipe but even more simplified, and scaled up to 4.5 cups of hot sauce.
about a pound of hot peppers of your choice, stemmed and (optional) seeded and membranes removed, chopped into 1/4″ slices – I wound up with 8.7 ounces cherry, 3.7 ounces ancho, 2.45 ounces red jalapeno, and one single habanero (I chickened out)
1-1/4 teaspoon salt
1.5 teaspoon vegetable oil
3 cups water
12 ounces distilled white vinegar
Combine the peppers, garlic, onions, salt and oil in a non-reactive saucepan over high heat. Saute for 3 minutes. Add the water and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, or until peppers are very soft and almost all of the liquid has evaporated. (Note: this should be done in a very well-ventilated area!) Remove from the heat and allow to steep until mixture comes to room temperature. In a food processor, puree the mixture for 15 seconds, or until smooth. With the food processor running, add the vinegar through the feed tube in a steady stream.
Taste and season with more salt, if necessary. (This will depend on the heat level of the peppers you use as well as the brand of vinegar used.) Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve and then transfer to a sterilized pint jar or bottle and secure with an airtight lid. Refrigerate. Let age at least 2 weeks before using. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.