Friday, May 25, 2012

Bring Homemade Hot Sauce to the Potluck

Yesterday we had a picnic at work to celebrate three new summery titles — Hot Sauce!; Lobster!; and Tag, Toss & Run — perfect for a picnic. I will tell you more about our delicious and fun gathering in a later post. What I want to talk about here is the ultimate condiment.

 The condiment station at our work picnic.

Call me weird. I don't like mustard, ketchup, relish, or mayonnaise — not on my hot dog, not on my burger, and not on my french fries. In my opinion salsa gets the number one ranking in the condiment department. It can be hot, it can be mild, it can have a tropical twist, it can be garlicky, or it can be citrus-y. It is low-calorie, it is good for you, and it goes with almost everything!

I dip my fries in salsa, I slather it on grilled chicken sandwiches, I add it to pasta salads, I add it to tossed salads. It goes good with fish, bratwurst, grilled vegetables, and, of course, chips. And now, for the first time ever, I've had it on lobster. Three words here — Oh. My. God.

The season of cookouts and outdoor gatherings is upon us. If you have a potluck to go to, you must bring a homemade version of the ultimate condiment as your offering. I did.

I made a hot sauce and a salsa for our work picnic. I used recipes from — you guessed it — Hot Sauce!. Here are the recipes I made, and now you can make them too.
Picante Sauce - Makes 4 cups
This herbal sauce surprises with the subtle smokiness it gets from the chipotle. Chipotles are among my favorite chiles — fragrant and complex, with a smoky heat. They are made by cold-smoking fresh, ripe (red) jalapeรฑos. My husband, Joe, built a smoke pit in our backyard and smokes a batch of red jalapeรฑos once a year, when he cranks up the pit for ribs or pork butt for a party.
    6    dried chipotle chiles, stemmed
    4    ripe tomatoes, stemmed
    6    fresh red jalapeรฑo chiles, stemmed
    1    small yellow onion, peeled and quartered
    3    medium garlic cloves, peeled
    2    tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
    1    cup water
    ¾   cup cider vinegar
    1    teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
    ½   teaspoon salt
    ¼   teaspoon ground allspice
          Freshly ground black pepper

  1. Soften the chipotles by soaking them in a pot of hot water for 20 minutes or so. Drain, and remove the seeds if you want a milder sauce. Combine the softened chipotles in a blender with the tomatoes, jalapeรฑos, onion, garlic, and cilantro, and pulse until finely chopped.
  2. Add the water, vinegar, cayenne, salt, allspice, and black pepper to the chipotle mixture and purรฉe until just smooth, about 1 minute, being careful not to over-blend. 
  3. Pour the mixture into a saucepan and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool before bottling. Refrigerated, the sauce will keep for up to 6 weeks (for long-term storage, see instructions on page 51).

Fire-Roasted Tomato Salsa - Makes 2 cups
Use only fresh ripe tomatoes. Bufalo makes a terrific red sauce from fully ripened jalapeรฑo chiles, which give their sauce a ripe, fruity tang rather than the grassy, herbal flavor you might expect from a green jalapeรฑo sauce.

    4    medium ripe tomatoes
    1    small red bell pepper
    2    garlic cloves, chopped
    2    tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
          Juice of 1 lime
    1–2     teaspoons hot sauce
    ¼    teaspoon salt

  1. Preheat the oven to broil.
  2. Place the whole tomatoes and bell pepper on a baking sheet and broil, turning once or twice, until charred, about 8 minutes for tomatoes and 4 minutes for the pepper. (You could also char them on a hot grill, turning frequently.) Put the pepper in a bag to steam and loosen the skin.
  3. Skin and core the tomatoes, removing most of the seeds, and chop. Skin and core the bell pepper and chop. Combine the tomatoes and peppers with the remaining ingredients in a large bowl.
Recipes excerpted from Hot Sauce! © 2012 Jennifer Trainer Thompson.
All rights reserved.

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