A Spoonful of Wow

Nathan Smith

What started out as an online search for homemade hot sauce has exploded into an obsession for Nathan Smith.

He grows his own chilis and also purchases them from the Asheville Farmers Market since they’re difficult to find in grocery stores.  Dried chilis (found at Mexican groceries) can also be used after re-hydrating.  He makes several different sauces but shared this particular recipe with us.

If you’re lucky he may share a taste with you!  Stop by Highland Hiker Shoes on Main Street in Highlands.  Nathan loves to introduce newbies to his passion for the chili.

What You’ll Need:

1/4 Lb Fresh Serrano Chilis

1/4 Lb Fresh Red Jalapeño Chilis

1/8 Lb Fresh Habañero Chilis

1/8 Lb Fresh Cayenne Chilis

1 Cup White Vinegar

2 Cups Coarse Kosher Salt

1 Tbsp Ground Black Pepper

1 Tsp Cumin

2 Whole Cloves Roasted Garlic

How to Make:

Remove the stems and slice the peppers lengthwise.  Wear latex or rubber gloves to prevent the oils from irritating your skin.  It’s also a good idea to properly ventilate your prep area.  

Remove the seeds along with any of the pithy cores of the peppers as this will make the sauce milder or leave the seeds if you’re feeling brave! Transfer to a gallon freezer Ziploc bag and liberally apply coarse kosher salt. Shake bag thoroughly then set in fridge for three days (up to a month depending on how aged you wish the sauce to taste). The peppers will take on a mushy texture as they absorb the
salt content.  

Once aged to satisfaction, rinse in colander and set in “bowl shape” fashioned from foil with open top.  It’s important to use a couple of layers of foil when making the bowl to protect the chilis from drying from the heat of the smoker.  Soak wood chips for at least 15 minutes in water or beer for added flavor.  During this you can prep your grill with smoker box (very low heat with propane) or charcoal smoker until the coals have died down.  Add wood chips and chiles and allow to smoke for 2-6 hours (depending on how intense you want the smoke flavor). 

Roast cloves of garlic with skin still on over medium heat in a cast iron skillet until large black discolorations form on the skin and it slides off the clove easily.  Allow the chilis to cool and then transfer to large food processor.  

Add vinegar, black pepper, cumin, and roasted garlic to the chilis and then blend until desired consistency is reached.  You may want to add more vinegar or water at this point if you want a runnier hot sauce.  Allow to sit in fridge overnight in desired container for all the flavors to permeate.  Enjoy on your favorite dishes, including chicken pizza, and soups.