photo credit: Saveur
I was psyched to open the all-chef edition of Saveur Magazine (Jan/Feb 2011) and spot, in big-ass, all capital letters: “BOOZY HOT SAUCE,” with the accompanying photo at right.
This item, #25 on the “Saveur 100″ list, was contributed by Elizabeth Karmel of Hill Country Barbecue here in NY. She describes this as “homemade hot sauce,” but if you ask me, this is infused tequila. Karmel says:
“I buy a half pint –or sometimes a pint– of the best tequila that the liquor store sells and pour myself a shot or two. That leaves enough room to stuff the bottle with red-hot bird peppers, peppercorns, and just a few pods of cracked smoked black cardamom. I put the top back on, shake it, and let it sit for at least a week before I use it. The longer it sits, the more delicious it gets.”
The full recipe is posted here, on Saveur’s website. I say bravo for toasting the spices (note: the recipe says cumin and allspice berries, rather than cardamom pods) before adding them to the tequila, and again — bravo for enjoying a shot of the hooch straight up. But in my opinion, a weeklong steep might be a bit much, even with dried chile peppers.
I’ve had spiced rum on the brain ever since I wrote about the new crop of rums for “Talk Like A Pirate Day
.” And I’ve been planning to experiment and mix up a few batches but just haven’t found the time.
Turns out, Paul Clarke beat me to the punch, with his Serious Eats post on How To Make Spiced Rum From Scratch. In the article, he notes the importance of selecting the right rum to infuse — he recommends “something with a good, aged richness to it,” (I agree) and recommends Appleton Estate Extra, Mount Gay Eclipse, or Matusalem Gran Reserva.
He also warns that vanilla can overpower some spiced rums — which seems to be the chief complaint about the current crop of spiced rums. Personally, I find those vanilla notes pleasing, but certainly it’s more interesting when the rum shows pops of cinnamon, allspice, or clove.
Paul Clarke’s Spiced Rum
- 1 750ml bottle decent aged rum
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 3 whole cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
- 5 whole allspice berries
- 5 whole black peppercorns
- 1/2 piece star anise
- 1/8 tsp fresh-grated nutmeg
- 3 quarter-size pieces fresh ginger
- 2 3-inch strips fresh orange zest, white pith removed
Combine everything in a large jar and seal. Keep in a cool, dark place for a couple of days, shaking it once a day to distribute the ingredients. Start tasting it after 48 hours; adjust ingredients if necessary, and once you feel it’s done (probably no longer than 4 days altogether), strain and bottle.
In the past, I’ve also tried the following spiced rum recipe — it’s unorthodoxly fruity, intense, and loosely based on a house-made version that was served at the Waldorf-Astoria’s Peacock Alley bar a few years back, where the rum was shaken with Cointreau and raspberry puree.
Autumn Spiced Rum
- 1 750 ml bottle gold rum
- 1/2 Fuji apple, diced
- 5 pieces of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into coin-sized slices
- 1 dried fig
- 1 piece of orange peel
- 1 Tablespoon of black peppercorns, crushed
Add all the spices to the rum, close, and let steep 24 hours, or as long as one week. Strain out the fruit and spices and cover tightly. Use in your favorite rum-based cocktails.