One of our family’s homemade gifts this Christmas was my Red Hot Sauce. In “A Peck of Peppers“, I wrote about preparing the sauce from Fresno Chiles fresh from the garden, which I did at the end of September. Then I put the sauce in a charred oak barrel and let it sit until the week before Christmas. I strained it and put it in bottles. I was particularly pleased with the deep red color of the sauce.
This is a fermented sauce — the only thing added to the peppers is salt. The smell is strong, and it has a slightly smoky, sour taste. In addition to making gifts, I used the sauce in a marinade for elk steaks that we had at Christmas dinner. I also added it to baked beans I made. I think of this red hot sauce less as a table condiment and more as a set of rich flavors that can enhance any number of dishes — it’s earthy, yet with a call-to-attention bright flavor, just like a pepper. It stays with you.