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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

~Green with Spiciness~ ...and a few avocados, some jalapeno peppers, lime...

This week brings another chance for me to try and copy a recipe from one of my favorite restaurants!  One of the best things at one of our local tequerias is their green roasted pepper and avocado hot sauce so I set out to try and make it my own.  Quite a bit of experimenting and a few burned fingers later, this here is what I came up with:

~Roasted Jalapeno & Avocado Hot Sauce~

10 - 12 Roasted Jalapenos (depending on how spicy you like it)
1 Medium Ripe Avocado
Juice of 1 small Lime
1 - 2 Teaspoons cider vinegar
1 1/2 Teaspoon Chopped Cilantro
2 Tablespoons buttermilk
1/4 Teaspoon salt
pinch black pepper
Water (for consistency about 2/3 - 3/4 cup)

Special Tools: Grill or broiling pan for roasting
                        Food processor or large capacity blender

Yield - about 2 cups

This sauce is a great, zingy, spicy sauce for all kinds of things from simple corn chips to more complex dinners like Carne Adobada (red stewed pork.)  This particular recipe has a lot of lime zing so be aware if you're looking for a sauce for something relatively mild in flavor.

First and foremost select your peppers and prepare them for roasting!


The best peppers for this (for heat) are either home grown where you can control humidity and temperature or from a good quality grocer or outdoor market.  Most chiles like lots of sun and wet feet with plenty of nutrients.  When they are grown in huge quantities for the big grocers they just don't get the love they need to really produce lots of capsaicin oil.

Heirloom pepper plants from a local farm sale

The peppers you'll find at big chain grocers are more often than not grown hydroponically in sand just for size and color with no consideration for spiciness so be ware and select the right peppers for the job.

 ~~INGREDIENT NOTES: Hot Peppers~~

Preparing the peppers is simple but you'll probably want to wear gloves and goggles.  The chances of getting pepper juice in your eyes is pretty low but it only takes a tiny drop before you're on the floor holding your face...

Slice your peppers length wise and scoop out the seeds and pith.

~~FOOD SCIENCE SNIPPET: The white "pith" inside a chile is the gland where the spicy capsaicin is produced~~

~~FOOD SCIENCE NOTES (chiles): Capsaicin Activation in Spicy Foods~~

The best tool for scraping the inside of the pepper has to be a melon-baller but a normal spoon or relatively sharp measuring spoon should work fine.  Once you've gotten them cleaned, preheat your grill or turn on your oven's broiler for roasting.

Roast your peppers over medium high flames or under the hi broiler in the oven, turning to provide even heating, until the skins blacken and bubble and the very vegetative smells give way to a much sweeter, buttery smell.  This roasting breaks down certain flavor compounds that can add a very bitter flavor to the sauce while helping to amplify other more desirable flavors in the flesh.

Once the peppers are roasted to your liking, remove them from the heat and immediately dunk them in ice water.  This cold shock causes the skin to sluf from the flesh of the pepper.  Rub the peppers with you hands to remove the charred skins then toss them into the bowl of your food processor with cilantro lime juice and vinegar and pulse a few times to chop the lot medium fine. 

Next scoop and chop your avocados then toss them into the food processor with your buttermilk.  Pulse a few more times to distribute the ingredients then turn the machine on to medium speed.  With the food processor running add a small amount of water to let everything come together in a paste.  To get the right consistency add more cold water, just a splash at a time until its just where you like.  The end product should be fairly liquid.  When you've got your sauce just where you want it to be, season to taste with salt and pepper.  This will keep in a lidded container in the fridge for about a week.

This sauce is an all time favorite thing for me when I get it at the taqueria but I couldn't just leave it alone in its fairly traditional recipe.  Due to a sudden lack of sour cream, I ended up substituting buttermilk but I think it just made it more interesting!  This sauce is made from avocado and jalapenos but maybe try adding a few Serrano peppers for that extra kick or small red bells for a sweeter edge.  Maybe even toss in some white pepper and roasted garlic.  So many options for so many delicious hot sauces!  Have fun in the kitchen and keep on experimenting!