Hot peppers are my favorite food of the season, and this sauce, although simple, is one of my favorites for bringing together some of the best produce in New York state: chilies, carrots and onions. The brine of a hot sauce is simple: salt, vinegar, and spices as you please. The acidity of vinegar brings out the bright first bite of the fresh habaneros. Carrots and onion sweeten the sauce without stealing the show. The traffic-cone orange color of this sauce stays true to the beautiful flesh of these spicy-hot peppers: a cheerful (and deadly) companion to the salt and pepper of any table.
- 1 cup vinegar
- 1 cup water
- salt, to taste (no more than 2 tablespoons)
- 12 habanero chiles
- 1 white or yellow onion, quartered
- 1 medium carrot, roughly chopped
- 12 peppercorns*
- 1 bay leaf*
In a small saucepan, combine the carrots, onion, peppercorns and bay leaf and habanero chilies with the vinegar and water. Partially cover and simmer over medium-low heat until the carrots are tender (about 10 minutes). Remove peppercorns and bay leaf. Pour into a blender, and add the salt. Blend until smooth. Thin if desired with more water. Taste and add more salt as desired.
Pour into jars or bottles and store in the refrigerator.
*If you’re making an entirely New York local sauce, skipping the peppercorns and bay leaf is no crime. I’ve made it with garlic instead.
Photos: Naima Green