Monday, December 10, 2007

My Favorite Hot Sauces

People are always asking me what my favorite hot sauce is, and sometimes they're disappointed when I reply that I don't have one single favorite. But most people start to understand when I explain that some hot sauces are better for certain types of food, while others work much better with different dishes. Additionally, some are best used in cooking while others shine when splashed on served food (what I like to call a "table sauce"). So with all that in mind, here's my list of favorite hot sauces, in alphabetical order:

*Blue's Habanero Reserve Hot Sauce: Red Savina Habanero peppers provide a hefty amount of heat, but in a full-bodied tomato-lemon-vinegar base that helps control the fire without a harsh vinegary edge. This is my favorite hot sauce for scrambled eggs, quiche, and other breakfast/brunch fare.

*Conquering Lion Hickory-Smoked Mango Hot Sauce: Hotter than the Blues Habanero Reserve, this all-natural mostly-organic XXX hot sauce packs serious firepower in a thick, smoky base that's mellowed with just a touch of mango. I love this sauce in baked beans and on grilled foods.

*Mile High Hot Sauce: Made with red ripe jalapeno peppers, this hearty hot sauce has a rounder, less "vegetal" flavor than more astringent green jalapeno sauces. The texture reminds me of homemade hot sauce, with lots of pieces of peppers and seeds. I adore this sauce on nachos, in chili, and for cooking Mexican and Tex-Mex foods.

*Not Cool Garden Fresh Habanero Sauce: This one's my favorite on pizza, spaghetti and other Italian food, because of its rich garlicky notes, mild-medium heat and spices that nicely complement tomatoes and pasta dishes. It's organic, too!

*Ole Time Hot Sauce: OK, admittedly this sauce is considered a hot BBQ sauce in North Carolina (eastern style vinegar-based BBQ sauce), but anywhere else in the US it would be used as a hot sauce - and that's also how I tend to use it, too. The vinegar tang and straightforward red pepper/black pepper spiciness makes it my favorite for splashing onto collards, turnip greens, green beans and other homestyle vegetables, and I also splash it on french fries, too. And of course it's superb on pulled pork barbeque!

*Robert Rothschild Hot Raspberry Thunder: This is one of the few capsaicin-extract hot sauces that I actually enjoy, especially on chicken, turkey and other poultry. It also makes a great hot & spicy dip when blended with cream cheese.

*Toad Sweat Dessert Hot Sauces: Yes, sometimes I feel the need to spice up my ice cream or cheesecake! These unique, fruit-based sweet hot sauces really rock, and also work on savory foods - the key lime and lemon flavors are nice with seafood, while the cranberry flavor pairs well with turkey (of course!) and pork. The chocolate orange flavor works with all sorts of chocolate desserts. And you can stir any of them into your morning oatmeal to help wake you up!

*Capsicana Zing Gourmet Sauce: With its mildly spicy heat level, I love this zippy sauce on salads (I use it instead of a salad dressing), as a sandwich condiment and as a dip (either on its own or blended with cream cheese) for raw vegetables.

So what's YOUR favorite hot sauce? Leave a comment and let us know!

Zestfully yours,

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