Thursday, December 2, 2010

Some like it hot

Like the song says . . . some like it hot and some sweat when the heat is on. 

In my kitchen, we like it hot.  Most of the foods I make are spicy, even if they only have a touch of heat.   We like hot food!

Dangling from many strings in front of my kitchen window hangs the mother load of the hot pepper harvest from our garden.  I’m drying them out to pulverize into a fiery coarse powder.

Of course, I plan to use this homemade spice to heat up my recipes, but in addition to this I made a hot pepper infused oil.  The hot oil can be used to cook with, as a dressing for salads or to finish prepared dishes.

There are two methods of making Hot Pepper Oil that I used with the previous batch of peppers I dried out.  Both methods require heating the oil because that draws out the most heat and flavor from the peppers.

Be sure to be careful when handling hot peppers.  The oil from the pepper can actually burn your skin or worse if it gets into your eyes or mucous membranes. 

You can use whatever oil you like . . . seed, corn, peanut, olive . . . however, there is no need to extra virgin olive oil.  The flavor of the pepper will drown out any nuances that the more expensive oils impart . . . save your money and use a lighter oil.

To make hot pepper oil . . .

Use a ratio of 2 tablespoons coursely chopped peppers to a 1/2 cup of oil.

The first method is quite simple . . . put dried, chopped peppers and oil together in a sterilized mason jar (not tightly shut), and heat the entire mixture in a simmering water bath. The low-temperature, slow, long cooking (about an hour or even two) will extract the best pepper flavors out of the pods. Filter it all in a simple sieve.

The second method is to pour your oil of choice into a frying pan and heat the oil. Turn it off well before it gets to the smoking point.  Then let it cool for a minute or two. Break up the dried peppers into the oil.  They will sizzle and immediately diffuse their heat into the oil. Strain the oil to remove the pepper and store in a sealed container.

And there you have it . . .  Hot Pepper Oil!  Gorgeous and hot . . . just like my hunny!

The oil lasts for a month, at least, and even longer in the refrigerator.

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