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Hot in Herre

Whenever I travel in Europe, I inevitably end up craving Mexican food. I need some heat. We have discussed traveling with a bottle of hot sauce, but that seems sort of weird and the chances of disaster are high. Admittedly, I could seek out Mexican restaurants, but I suspect they would be disappointing in one way or another. So, I return to the states wanting to put hot sauce on everything.

I hadn’t thought about making my own hot sauce until Amelia wrote about the neon orange sauce that I had also bookmarked in Bon Appetit a couple of months ago. She inspired me to try the recipe. Bryan and I bought all of the ingredients we needed at the market back in September and were excited to give it a try. And then that terrible thing happened where you don’t follow through and the ingredients sit on the counter making you feel bad about yourself for several days until they are finally beyond using and you throw them out. This happened to us twice. Twice! It is a terrible feeling.

So, this weekend when we saw a beautiful basket of peppers at the farmers market we looked at each other and wondered if the third time would be the charm. Luckily, our friends Emily and Aaron were with us and they convinced us we would actually make the sauce this time. We did! Well, more accurately, Bryan made the sauce while I hovered and micro-managed. He is the hot sauce connoisseur in the family, and so it made sense that he should be in charge of the project. Also, I was a little scared of dealing with that many habaneros.

The hot sauce is awesome. Totally perfect heat level and a nice, bright citrus/floral taste. It is really great with chicken, but we also loved it with fried green tomatoes. It is a rather posh hot sauce. It calls for St. Germain, for which I am sure some of you will find a clever substitute. Amelia used Grand Marnier, which seems good but would definitely push the citrus flavors of this recipe.

If you’re not familiar with Bon Appetempt, Amelia’s post [1] on this hot sauce will make you a loyal fan. It is definitely worth a read. And if you decide to make this sauce for yourself, be like Nike (not us) and Just Do It.

Hot Sauce Butter (recipe by Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Dan Kluger via Bon Appetempt [1] via Bon Appetit [2])

Wearing gloves, halve and seed the chiles. Puree chiles, pepper, zest, 2 tablespoons liqueur, 1 tablespoon salt, and garlic in a blender. Transfer mixture to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit at room temperature for 12 hours (we let it sit for about 16 hours).

Puree chile mixture in a blender with vinegar, remaining 2 tablespoons liqueur, and remaining 1 tablespoon salt until smooth. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a small saucepan. Strain mixture, pressing on solids. Heat hot sauce over medium heat. Stir cornstarch and 2 teaspoons water in a small bowl until smooth. Whisk cornstarch mixture into hot sauce. Simmer, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Whisk in 3 tablespoons butter. Season to taste with salt. Keep warm if you are using immediately or store in fridge. The fat will separate, but that is no problem. Warm it up and shake or stir.