I used to be very vanilla when it came to spice in my food. Mild, baby. It had to be M - I - L - D. Somewhere along the way, due to a combination of age, the expansion of my palette and all the time we spend in New Orleans I developed a serious hot sauce habit. It brings me so much pleasure. The initial kick, the way it heightens the other flavours, the weird buzz you get minutes after eating it. It's the best.
This year I decided to try and make my own homemade hot sauce for some Christmas Gifts for friends and family. I like giving gifts from my kitchen and considering all the sweets we all get this time of year, I thought I'd go in the other direction and bring the spice!
Never having made my own hot sauce before I perused Pinterest for recipes. There are so many ways you can go with hot sauce. Some really complex layered flavours. I was surprised to see one recipe that included carrots! None of them were really what I was after; I didn't have time to ferment anything and the flavour I was hoping to achieve was something really simple, with heavy vinegar overtones. There's this hot sauce you find in New Orleans called Crystal, it costs less than a dollar for a little bottle of it and the flavours are simple and bright...basically just Cayenne Peppers and Vinegar, it's pretty mild too, which is a good thing if you're giving it as a gift.
This non-recipe-recipe from The New York Times sounded like it would fit the bill perfectly. Here it is with my modifications:
What you'll need:
Cayenne Peppers (about a dozen, maybe more)
1) Wash and trim the peppers (leave in the seeds)
2) Put into food processor or blender
3) Submerge Peppers in Vinegar
4) Add about 1 tbsp of Salt
5) Blend until smooth
6) Transfer the sauce to a pot and bring to a boil, stirring frequently (avoid getting the fumes in your eyes because...ouch)
7) Let sauce cool in pot
8) Run cooled sauce through a sieve
9) Funnel into bottles and refrigerate
Keep refrigerated, shake before use and expect it to last a month or so.
The good news? This tastes JUST like Crystal.
I created this label for it, to make it look more official :)
Lenny was very happy to have her name right there on the label. Ever the entrepreneur she thinks we should open a shop to sell the stuff. Or, at least see if we can sell it at a Farmer's Market. I fully expect this child to have 3 or 4 functioning businesses by the time she's 10 years old.
Let me know if you try this recipe, or if you have a go-to hot sauce recipe that you'd like to share!