All right, I know hot sauce itself isn’t specifically from the South, but keeping with our Southern theme of the week, this Louisiana hot sauce recipe is Southern enough. It takes no time to make and the ingredients and equipment are very basic.
First get your ingredients together. Because the entire flavor of the sauce depends on the chiles you use, pick peppers that are tight-skinned, plump, and without blemishes. I use red jalapeños which definitely have heat, but are a touch sweet and won’t blow your face off. If you like more spice, mess around with the recipe and add in some red Thai bird, cayenne, or habanero chiles. Regular old distilled white vinegar gives this sauce the sharp flavor it needs, so save the fancy vinegars for salad dressing. For the salt, I like the pure flavor of fine sea salt. You can use whatever salt you have on hand, but keep in mind the sizes of salt crystals differ from brand to brand, so start out judiciously and add more salt to suit your taste.
A few preparations and safety tips: Before you get started cooking, open a couple of windows in the house because once the vinegar starts to boil and the capsaicin (the spicy agent) in the chiles is released, the air will get a little spicy, too. Put the pets and kids elsewhere, just to be safe. Make sure after you handle the chiles to keep your capsaicin-laden fingers away from your eyes, nose, and nether regions and wash your hands, cutting board, and knife thoroughly. Or you can just wear disposable gloves.
Once the hot sauce is ready, you can use it right away, but ageing it in the fridge develops the flavor some more. I like it on anything from pizza, fried eggs, beef tacos, salad dressing, in my bloody Mary, chili, or mixed in with a little mayo on a sandwich.
Easy Louisiana Hot Red Pepper Sauce
Makes: 3 cups
1 pound red jalapeños
2 cups distilled white vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1. Stem the chiles (leave the seeds intact).
2. Place the chiles, vinegar, and salt in a large saucepan over high heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium and let simmer until the chiles are soft, about 5 minutes more.
3. Transfer the mixture to a blender. Remove the small cap in the blender lid, place the lid on the blender, and cover the hole with a kitchen towel. Blend until smooth (there will still be unblended seeds). Removing the “pour cap” from the blender lid releases the steam and keeps the lid from popping off and the hot liquid from flying everywhere. Skim off any foam with a large spoon and discard. Season with more salt if desired.
4. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a large measuring cup or bowl with a spout.
Use a rubber spatula to stir the solids, releasing the liquid.
Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate. You can use the hot sauce right away, but letting it age in the fridge for 2 weeks or up to 2 months before using develops the flavor more. It will keep refrigerated for up to 4 months.
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