Sunday, September 30, 2012

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo


I've talked about Buffalo wings before. A lot.

I've also talked about how good home-grown celery is, what an intense flavor it has. This year my mother grew celery root, and I've been using the thin stalks and leaves to flavor, well, everything.

I grew Tabasco peppers this year, and because we got such a long growing season, they actually turned red. So I tried my hand at pepper mash again, which is the Tabasco method of making hot sauce: you mash peppers with salt, let it ferment, and then mix it with vinegar. This is the classic Louisiana style hot sauce.

In the past, my peppers have dried out without fermenting. I could have just added water and gone about it much like sauerkraut, but since the last time I tried making Tabasco sauce, I've gotten into kimchi. So I treated it similarly: mixing the main ingredient (the peppers) with seasonings, salt, and something with enough liquid and sweetness in it to kickstart the anaerobic fermentation.

The seasonings were the celery leaves and stalks - the liquid, half of a tomato. I blended those together with red ripe Tabasco peppers and salt, jarred it up, and let it ferment for a week, until it was bubbling like mad - then blended that with apple cider vinegar and red miso, and strained it. I also added a pinch of xanthan gum - it's a thickener, but it also helps keep the pepper from coming out of suspension, so that the pepper sauce doesn't separate.

Already I had something amazing - a rich, full-flavored hot sauce with a pronounced celery flavor, like the celery sticks you eat with your Buffalo wings. (After sitting a week, the tomato flavor became more noticeable, almost gazpachoey.)

But wait. I divided the sauce in half. One I left as is, as just described. To the other I added a stick of butter that had been cooked until browned. Again, the xanthan gum helps keep the sauce from separating, though in this case I think a bit of mustard would do the same.

It's like premixed Buffalo sauce, but ... so much better.

Butter and Tabasco sauce; Tabasco sauce

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