I’ve been growing my own chile peppers and writing about them for more than a quarter century now, and one of my favorite ways to preserve them at this time of year when they’re ripe on the plants is to make my own hot sauce, Louisiana-style. The two peppers most commonly used in the bottled Louisiana hot sauces found in supermarkets are tabasco and cayenne, neither of which are commercially farmed in Louisiana. Tabasco chiles are grown in Central and South America, and the only plants grown on Avery Island are harvested for their seeds. Cayenne chiles are grown in New Mexico and Mexico and after harvest, the pods are crushed, salt is added, and they are fermented for months in huge fiberglass tanks before being shipped by rail car to Louisiana. There, the mash is mixed with vinegar, strained, and bottled.
But you can bypass this process at home and actually make a more flavorful Louisiana hot sauce by adding some spices and using some freshly-harvested pods rather than a salty mash. Be sure to use latex or rubber gloves when handling chiles and be careful not to touch sensitive body parts like your eyes. Ventilate your kitchen in case the fumes from preparing the chiles for the sauce becomes too intense.
Louisiana-style hot sauce are typically used to spice up Cajun and Creole dishes like gumbos, dirty rice, étouffée, and jambalaya, but you can use them in any spicy cuisine, such as Asian or Southwestern. They are also sprinkled over raw oysters, not only to spice them up, but to kill bacteria. Those hot peppers are anti-microbial as well as tasty!
More Hot Sauce Applications
- Spice up bland barbecue sauce by adding your favorite hot sauce to taste.
- For a more dramatic breakfast, sprinkle hot sauce while scrambling eggs.
- Use very hot sauce on wood surfaces you wish to protect from gnawing by varmits like squirrels and rabbits.
- Hot sauce is a great addition to drinks like bloody marys, bloody marias, sangritas, and micheladas.
- One of the more curious uses of Louisiana-style hot sauce is to pour some of it into a zip bag of fried pork rinds, zip the bag, and gently shake it a few time. This makes the relatively bland pork rinds much tastier.
Louisiana-Style Hot Sauce
This recipe is from The Hot Sauce Bible, by Dave DeWitt and Chuck Evans. They say that the key to success with this sauce is to use fresh rather than dried chiles and that any small fresh hot chile can be used.
- 15 to 20 large fresh Tabasco chiles, stems and seeds removed, cut in half lengthwise, or substitute fresh piquins or cayennes
- 2 cloves garlic, cut in half
- ½ cup distilled white vinegar
- Salt to taste
- Place the chiles, cut side down, on a broiler rack. Broil for about 5 minutes or until the skin blisters and blackens. Transfer the peppers to a paper bag and let stand for about 10 minutes. Peel the chiles when cool.
- Place the chiles and garlic in a blender or food processor. With the machine running, slowly add the vinegar until the mixture is well blended. Add salt to taste. Keep covered and refrigerated until you use it.
Yield: ½ cup
Heat Scale: Hot
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