Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Making Hot Pepper Sauce - Piri-Piri Portugues Paste

When I married, my new "family" was Portuguese. They used hot red peppers in their cooking. I was raised in a typical "American" family with roasts every Sunday, lots of canned and processed foods during the rest of the week. 

My cooking was forever changed by the use of crushed red peppers. My in-laws had a wonderful garden as they weren't originally from the U.S. they raised food and processed many of the foods they did raise including animals. 

This was all new to me as I was a city girl. I had the typical "American" garden with tomatoes, cucumbers and the like. When I married, my new spouse told me to grow "red peppers." I had never cooked or grown spicy peppers so I took him at his word and planted hot peppers. 

He was NOT a gardener and hadn't helped his father in the garden or doing much outside having being raised in the U.S. He told me that I needed to cut up the hot red peppers and I had NO idea what I was doing but was trying to learn his family traditions so I dutifully cut up the hot red peppers. NOT a good idea. My hands burned for days. His family got a kick out of this but I can say I tried. 
His mother would make a paste or sauce out of the hot red peppers that his father grew as they had the typical male/female rolls of him taking care of the yard and house and she did the cooking and serving. She would actually fill their plate and put it in front of the men in the room. 
I was raised with everyone serving themselves so I always thought it funny when she would do this. I wondered how she new how much he wanted of things but she did it for her son as well and would clean up their plates after they finished even if she wasn't.
I have always liked being outside and doing yard work and fixing things. I think I was more like his father in many ways. I learned to cook many of the Portuguese meals and really enjoy spicy food having always enjoyed Mexican food. Since that time, I have cooked with crushed red peppers. His mother would always give us a bottle when needed one from her yearly yield. 

When we moved away from his family, I would buy jars at the stores when visiting them and use them until our next visit as they lived in a large Portuguese community. Since that time, I found that many Asian stores carry the "Rooster" sauce that is very similar to the Portuguese piri-piri sauce or paste. I would purchase it by the gallon when in a larger city and refill the little jar in the fridge from a larger jar I kept in our storage fridge since our towns grocery stores didn't carry it.

This year, I decided to learn to make my own garlic hot sauce. Since my neighbors gave me a ton of hot Anaheim peppers they were throwing out, I figured it was about time to learn to make it. If I had to purchase the peppers and make it, it wouldn't be worth the work as I can buy a jar of the pepper sauce for cheap and skip the work. I am guessing that you can use any type of hot pepper such as jalapeno, chili, habenero to make this. You would just use less for cooking the hotter the pepper used.

Basically, I read up on MANY different cultures hot sauces and most are the basic recipe with a few spices thrown in for different countries. It seems as if each country has their own version of this. Thailand, China, India, Korea, Africa, Arabian, Portuguese and Mexican.

I remembered my past mistake cutting up peppers without gloves so before I write how I did it, let me tell you to oil your hands with olive oil. Use powderless gloves and then purchase a new pair of large cleaning gloves as even with this, you will have pepper on your hands. 

Wash the peppers. Then, since I like the seeds in it, I just cut off the top of the peppers and pulled out the main center seeds. I also cut off any part of the pepper that wasn't pristine. 

I then threw them into the VitaMix, or blender. I tried a food processor but the chunks were large and I wanted a paste so I went with the blender. Some use a meat grinder to make it but I found the vita-mix with its strong motor worked great. I did have to add the peppers a few at a time to create a liquid which helped mix it more easily. 
I threw in some bagged peeled garlic since I like the "Rooster" sauce with it's garlic added. Some recipes are very time consuming as many of the Portuguese ones have you salt the peppers and let them sit for days, or cook it and then let it sit in the fridge for days with salt on top. I didn't think I wanted to do that and didn't want that much salt so I went with a more middle-east type where you boil it down, add vinegar, salt and freeze it.  

Basically, I had a sink full of peppers, I added the entire bottle of vinegar. It is a bit more vinegar than I needed but since it is red wine vinegar, it added flavor. I added about 4 tablespoons of salt and about 12 cloves of garlic. I also added a few tablespoons of olive oil. All of that was blended.

You can put a small amount on a plate, add a little olive oil and dab it up with some bread to see how it tastes. If it needs more salt or garlic, you can add it before canning or freezing it.
I boiled it down for about 20 minutes. I then spooned it into some sterile jars and just turned them upside down to seal the lid. I figured with the vinegar and salt, the peppers were fairly pickled. The jars I put into the outside fridge as I would use them in the near future and would share them with my girls. 
The rest, I spooned into sandwich bags. By folding the top down on the bags, I was able to keep the zipper seal clean until sealing them. I got out all the air and then sealed them and double bagged them. Make sure you label them and then you can put about four of the sandwich bags into a gallon bag and freeze them all. 

When the jar in the fridge is empty, I can just refill it with one of the frozen bags. I have already used it many times. Princess Five likes it on tortillas with melted cheese and sometimes black beans. It gives a nice spice to them. 

I used it on my roasts, with potatoes, in my rice cooker and in my stir-fry. Those recipes are on my blog. Happy Cooking!             

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