Until last week all of the salsa/hot sauce type sauces I have made have been tomato or tomatillo based, generally with cilantro, onion, and a few peppers. Last week I had an abundance of early season hot peppers. I had a few serrano and habanero peppers from the garden, as well as some jalapeno and serrano peppers I had previously run through the smoker. I thought it was about time I make a hot sauce because none of the other salsa ingredients are ripe in the garden.
I have noticed that what constitutes “hot” or “spicy” varies greatly since I moved from Maine to Arizona. Black pepper can blow a lot of people in Maine out of a dish because it is just too spicy. In Arizona, true habanero hot sauce can readily be found. Being used to sauces like Tabasco and Texas Pete’s Hot Sauce and how they have bottles that dispense one drop at a time, even though they are more of a sweet vinegar sauce, I was unprepared for the open top of a habanero sauce. Assuming it was not very hot because of the top, I poured some on a taco. I then realized my assumption was wrong and they correctly labeled the sauce “hot.” That experience convinced me to grow a few extra serrano and habanero pepper plants this year and to find a true hot sauce recipe. The recipe below is adapted from Rick Bayless’ Habanero Hot Sauce.
I pretty much followed the recipe, but I did not have enough habanero peppers so I used what I had – a few habanero peppers, mostly serrano peppers, and a few smoked serrano and jalapeno peppers. Surprisingly, the sauce was not too hot. When I make the sauce again I will reduce the amount of garlic used; maybe to three cloves instead of five. I will also cook the carrots and onions in extra water and cider vinegar since it took considerably longer for those to soften than the recipe said it would. Because of the various colored peppers I used the sauce had an odd green color. To make a nice looking sauce pick a color pepper and use just that one color.
The sauce has a nice flavor. Because it is not overly hot as I made it I will be making it again with habanero peppers only as they ripen. I might even make a batch with ghost peppers when they ripen for Jake.