Three Fiery Chile SaucesThe Pepper Pantry: Habaneros, their little book on the pepper, Dave DeWitt and Nancy Gerlach, assert that "the previously obscure habanero has become the designer chile of choice in the United States" in the past decade.
Many times hotter than a jalapeno, the habanero is legendary for its fiery character. But it is the peppers unique taste and reputedly apricot-like aroma that makes it so highly prized in sophisticated kitchens and has led to an "explosion" of processed products and recipes making use of the tiny peppers.
The good news for those wanting to find out what this buzz is all about without wiping out their taste buds is that the peppers heat "can easily be tempered by other ingredients."
The book contains a detailed history of the pepper, a description of the many different varieties of habaneros and other habanero lore from the Caribbean, where the pepper florished after it was introduced to the islands thousands of years ago from its point of origin in the Amazon basin.
The following recipes are for two Caribbean habanero sauces, the first rated medium hot, the second extremely hot.
of garlic, peeled and left whole
1. Place all the ingredients, except for the vinegar, in a sterilized jar. Pour the vinegar over the mixture and allow to steep for 1 week before using.
Essential Habanero Hot Sauce
½ cups chopped carrots
1. Combine all the ingredients, except for the habaneros, in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes or until the carrots are soft. (Adjust the heat by adding fewer habaneros not by increasing the carrots, as this can alter the flavor.)
2. Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Strain for a smoother sauce.
3. Pour in sterilized jars and refrigerate.
reprinted with permission from
Nancy Gerlach is a California refugee who settled in the Southwest and embarked upon a love affair with chile peppers. She is former food editor of Chile Pepper magazine and author of five books on chiles: Fiery Cuisines, Fiery Appetizers, Just North of the Border, The Whole Chile Pepper Book and The Habanero Cookbook.
"I grew up in Southern California and loved Mexican food, but when I moved to New Mexico, I got into chiles in a big way," she said in a recent interview. "In Southwestern and tropical cooking, you use the chiles as an ingredient, rather than as a seasoning. Its a way of life."
Nancy Gerlachs main sales pitch for chiles is that they are good for you. "Chiles are very healthy because they replace salt and fat in a meal, but are still very high in flavor," she says.
Here, for example, is salad dressing with minimal oil but no shortage of taste.
1 tsp ground
Copyright 2005 Seasonal Chef