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Firecracker hot foods...just for fun

Barbecue is now!
By Paul Kirk CWC, Ph.B., B.S.A.S.
Kansas City Baron of BBQ
Barbecue Guru
Order of the Magic Mop
Ambassador of BBQ
Certified Master BBQ Judge

Summer has arrived and it’s 4th of July time, so that means let’s try some firecracker hot foods, just for the fun of it!

What should you do if by chance you bit off a real hot pepper?  The best thing is to drink some milk or eat some sugar; all water does is increase the heat.

If you want to make this recipe and really don’t want it that hot, remove the seeds and membranes. You can also reduce the amount of habaneros, replacing them with a milder capsicum.

Hot Caribbean Habanero Hot Sauce
12 dried habanera peppers, with seeds
5 dried chipotles
2 papayas
3 Tbsp. chopped onion
1/4 c. vinegar, or as needed
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. cane sugar
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 c. mustard

Hydrate the dried habaneros. Retain approximately 1/4 cup of the liquid.  Chop all solids. Throw into blender with liquid ingredients.  "Liquify" until smooth and no chunks.  

For a more mild sauce, you may want to extract the seeds.   Once the mixture is very smooth, cook over very low heat for 30-60 minutes. Stir often, tasting from time. Taste (as much as you are able to) and add additional amounts of desired ingredients until you achieve the taste you desire.  The goal is to come up with a sauce that is sweet at first taste, and then leaves a healthy amount of pain as the taste fades away.

Remove from heat and cool 30-60 minutes.  Strain mixture through a fine strainer, like a double thickness of cheesecloth, to extract liquid, but leave behind seeds, pulp, etc.  This will take a while — be patient.

Store the extracted liquid in an air-tight container, or in a sealed bottle. Time will increase heat & taste.

Here is a replacement for your Louisiana Hot sauce and maybe Tabasco.

Cajun Hot Sauce
20 large fresh tabasco chiles, stems & seeds removed, cut in half lengthwise
1 pequins, cayennes or serranos
2 large cloves garlic, cut in half
2 Tbsp. cane sugar
1/2 c. white vinegar
Sea salt to taste

Place the chiles, cut side down, on a broiler rack. Broil for about 5 minutes or until the skin blisters and blackens. Transfer the peppers to a paper bag and let stand for about 10 minutes. Peel when cool.

Place the chiles, garlic, and sugar in a blender or food processor. With the machine running, slowly add the vinegar until the mixture is well blended. Add salt to taste. Keep covered and refrigerated until use.

Yield: 1/2 cup.

This homemade barbecue sauce brings a wonderful smoky spice with the chipotle peppers and bacon, but it's also slightly sweet from the sugars. It is nice and thick and will stick to your serving focus nicely. Get the grills ready!  To me this sauce isn’t what I would call hot, but I have been told that my taste buds burnt out 40 years ago.

Chipotle-Bacon-Bourbon Barbecue Sauce
7 oz. can chipotle peppers in adobo
4 oz. bacon, chopped
1 c. ketchup
1/2 c. cider vinegar
1/2 c. light brown sugar
6 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
4 Tbsp. Jim Beam bourbon
2 Tbsp. molasses
2 tsp. ground chili guajillo
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 tsp. fresh minced garlic
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground mustard seeds
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large saucepan to medium heat and add bacon. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring often.  Add onion and cook 3 more minutes, stirring often, until bacon is nice and crisp.  Add garlic and cook 1 more minute, or until garlic browns nicely.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Bring sauce to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer 30 minutes with an occasional stir. The sauce will slightly thicken.  Serve!

Here’s a good spicy oil for your taste.

Jalapeno Pepper Chili Oil
6 fresh jalapeno chili peppers
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 Tbsp.  sesame oil
1 tsp. of sugar
Pinch of cayenne
Pinch of salt

Cut the chili peppers in half and remove the seeds. Chop coarsely.  Heat the vegetable oil in a pan until it is smoking. Stir in the sesame oil.   Add the Jalapeno peppers and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes. Add the cayenne and the salt. Add the sugar and cook for another 2 - 3 minutes, stirring frequently.  Let the oil cool, then strain through a funnel into cheesecloth. Store in a sealed jar at room temperature. Makes about 1/2 cup.

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Bitter BBQ Sauce Grilling Basics

By Kent “The Deck Chef” & Ally Whitaker

During a recent book event, grilling and barbecue demo, I was asked a question from a participant about why his grilled barbecue sauce coated items often tasted bitter. Now, I know a lot of people that read the National Barbecue News already know the answer to this question, but please allow me to give a quick explanation to our grilling buddies and new BBQ smoker users.

Here’s my quick take on the subject and how I answered the question while doing the demo on my Vermont Castings Signature Series gas grill. Remember, this was a grilling demo. It turns out that the young man, who was just recently married, had just started out on his life of grilling for his new family. His basic recipe for everything was to coat any meat that he was putting on the grill with store-bought sugar heavy sauce.

I pointed it out that his recipe was fine for quick and easy flavor, but there was a science issue to consider. If you lather up chops, steaks, ribs, burgers, etc. with a sauce loaded with sugar and cook it at too high of temperature, then a chemical reaction takes place. The sugars, and other ingredients – depending on what’s in the sauce, can over-heat and burn resulting in a bitter taste. The actual sauce may, or may not, show that it has burned.

My suggestion was to look into marinades prior to the grilling process, keeping a better eye on the heat levels of the grill, and to save the barbecue sauce for the last few minutes before removing the item from the grill. After talking with the young man for a few minutes I realized that he was very intimidated about trying out slow smoked barbecue due to his concerns about burning and bitter tastes.

I pointed out that the whole process of my barbecue smoker was completely different than what we were talking about with demo and grilling on the Vermont Casting grill. Sure, my grill could be used for off-set low temp cooking in addition to high-heat direct grilling. And yes, if needed my smoker can handle simple charcoal and some burgers. But that I liked to use them for their intended design and purpose.

My example for high heat grilling, and eventually burning, was thinking about a kitchen oven on broil, only flipped over, that was high heat grilling. You walk away from the oven on broil for a few seconds and the next thing you know you’ve burnt your toast. On the other hand, my smoker is used 99% of the time for low temps and longer cooking times.

I know that the above is overly simplified but I think it gets the point across. As always, have fun and enjoy your time around the grill or smoker with your family and friends. As a matter of fact, I have to finish this up. Ally and I have some ribs coming out of the smoker for dinner and the weekend!

Kent Whitaker is the author of eight cookbooks, ranging from hometown cooking with a culinary history twist to titles for NASCAR tailgating and barbecue. He has also written and illustrated two books for children, is a trained USCG AUXCHEF, and is the winner of the Emeril Live / Food Network Barbecue Contest. His latest book, Bullets and Bread,  is in bookstores nationally and is also available online at, as well as at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon.

Contributed photo
If you lather up chops, steaks, ribs, burgers, etc. with a sauce loaded with sugar and cook it at too high of temperature, then a chemical reaction takes place.

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Grilled Pork Cutlets with Lemon Caper Sauce

Fire Up The Grill
By Steve Collins
The Home Chef

These grilled pork cutlets make a great light summer supper. Marinate the cutlets in this tangy lemon caper sauce, grill them and serve with your favorite pasta. Add a fresh green salad and you’re ready to go. The sauce is a snap. Just save the marinade and add sautéed onions and mushrooms with a bit of wine and some chicken stock to it. This also works well with boneless chicken breast or thigh. You can prepare most of the sauce and cook the pasta while waiting for the fire to be cooking-ready. Happy grilling!

4 boneless pork loin cutlets, 1/2” thick (about 1 pound)
Juice of 2 lemons (about ¼ cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 Tbsp.s olive oil
1 Tbsp. capers

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
1 c. sliced cremini mushrooms
1 c. chicken stock
1/4 c. white wine
Reserved marinade
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place pork cutlets in a reclosable plastic bag. Mix marinade ingredients and pour over the pork cutlets. Seal the bag and refrigerate for four hours up to overnight. When ready to cook prepare a hot fire in the grill.

When the fire is ready remove the cutlets from the marinade. Save the marinade for the sauce. Put the cutlets on the grill over the hottest part. Cook for four minutes. Flip and cook the other side for four more minutes. Serve with your favorite pasta and the sauce (instructions below).

While the grill is getting ready heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and mushrooms and cook for five minutes (until soft). Add the reserved marinade to the onions and mushrooms. Add the chicken stock and white wine and cook for 10 minutes, stirring as needed. Add the grilled cutlets to the sauce and cook for another minute. Serve over your favorite pasta. Serves 2.


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