Roasted Green Chili Hot Sauce and Salsa Verde

When my friend Melissa sent me a link to her favorite hot sauce recipe, I realized I had never made any. How could I have a blog named after a pepper and never have made my own hot sauce? I needed to rectify this situation.
Since this was the first time I had made hot sauce I didn’t play with the original recipe much. I varied the peppers a bit; I’m not a banana pepper fan so I used caribes and since they’re wicked hot (at least the ones I get)I balanced them with a mild Anaheim. Also, since I often find vinegar overwhelming, I used the mildest vinegars I had- rice and red wine – and replaced 1/3 of the vinegar with water.
Chandelle, the author of the original recipe, has some great tips about dealing with hot peppers. For example, did you know that capsaicin, the  chemical that makes peppers hot, dissolves in oil? That means if your hands start burning, you can scrub them well with some handy cooking oil and that should take care of the worst of the heat.  She also suggests rubbing down your knife and hands with oil before you cut the peppers, wearing gloves and tying a cloth over your mouth and nose. I didn’t do any of that, but I do suggest at a minimum that you lay a piece of plastic wrap across the hand that holds the peppers as you work with them. Even if you have no trouble cutting up a couple of peppers, you are bound to work a good bit of capsaicin into a bare hand after processing a whole pound of them. As for protecting your face, keep it out of the steam rising from any freshly-cooked peppers and you should be good. Fans and open windows in your kitchen help also.
Roasting the peppers really adds flavor to this sauce. After letting it sit for an hour or longer the flavors meld so that the first thing you taste is sweetness, then rich roasted peppers, and finally the heat sneaks in at the end; not too much, not too little.
Jim came home and said “Great, hot sauce! Do we have any chips?” I told  him that it was the wrong kind of hot sauce – it wasn’t salsa, it was the kind of sauce you used in tiny amounts. But I needed to go back to the store anyway, so I bought more ingredients to turn some of the hot sauce into salsa, and of course, some chips.
The salsa is quite tangy. After we had our fill of it with tortilla chips, I put it in the freezer. I plan to use it to top enchiladas, like these.
Roasted  Green Chili Hot Sauce
1 pound medium-hot green peppers or a mix of hot and mild ones
2/3 cup mild vinegar, such as rice vinegar, or red or white wine vinegar
1/3 cup water
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
Slice the stems from the peppers. Slit the peppers lengthwise. Use a small spoon to remove all or most of the seeds from the peppers. (This is where you will want to cover the hand holding the peppers in plastic wrap.)
Place the peppers skin-side up on a baking tray. Place your oven rack in its top-most position and turn the oven to broil. Broil the peppers for about 4 minutes until they start to blister. Turn the tray around and broil for another 3-5 minutes until peppers are evenly blistered and starting to blacken. Remove from the oven and cover the tray lightly with wax paper or a dish towel. Let peppers cool for 10 minutes or more.
Peel as much of the skin from the peppers as you can. Puree in the blender with the vinegar, water, garlic and salt.
Makes about 2 cups.
Roasted Chili Salsa Verde
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup diced onion (I used a red one)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 pound tomatillos, diced
1 cup Roasted Green Chili Hot Sauce, above
3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
Heat olive oil in a medium pot. Sauté onion until tender, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cumin and cook for a minute.  Add the tomatillos, chili sauce and salt. Bring to a low boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Let cool and stir in cilantro.
Makes about 2 cups.

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