February 20, 2013

Some like it hot. Really hot. Really really really hot

By Noelle Carter / McClatchy Newspapers

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Some like it hot. Really hot.
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Red jalapeno chiles

Some like it hot. Really hot.
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There is a world of possibilities for home cooks looking to unleash the pleasure-pain flame with their own hot sauces.

McClatchy Newspapers photos

Additional Photos Below

3. Blend the sauce again to form a smooth paste, thinning as desired with water.

4. Strain the sauce, pressing the solids through a fine mesh strainer with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Taste the sauce, and tweak the flavors as desired with additional salt, sugar or vinegar. Remove the sauce to a glass jar or bottle and cool completely. Refrigerate until needed.

Each tablespoon: 13 calories; 0 protein; 3 g carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 0 fat; 0 cholesterol; 2 g sugar; 133 mg sodium.

THE INCENDIARY ANATOMY OF A CHILE

A quick note on heat: Capsaicin is found in the inner ribs, or veins, of chiles, not just the seeds. To minimize the heat (why you'd ever want to do that, I don't know), remove the ribs with the seeds. And when working with chiles, be careful. The capsaicin in the oils can burn your hands and eyes. Wear gloves when handling the hottest chiles, and work in a well-ventilated area.

Chile heat varies by type, with Anaheim and pasilla on the milder end and jalapenos and serranos packing somewhat more of a punch. Habaneros (or Scotch bonnets if you can find them) are legendary, and even naga jolokia (the ghost chile) is increasingly easier to find. For true hotheads, you can buy pure capsaicin by itself for a practically weapon-grade sauce.

Fresh green chiles are fine, though the flavor can be a little underripe and "grassy." Ripe red chiles are the best, though they are generally seasonal, available typically late summer through early fall.

Dried chiles can be found year-round, their flavor more concentrated and complex than fresh chiles. To use them in a sauce, toast them briefly over a hot skillet to add smoky notes, then soak them in hot water to soften. Once softened, they can be used just like fresh.

 

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Additional Photos

Some like it hot. Really hot.
click image to enlarge

Habanero chiles

Some like it hot. Really hot.
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New Mexico chiles

Some like it hot. Really hot.
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Ancho chiles



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