Category Archives: Habanero cooking

Farfalle with chicken in a creamy, smoked spicy port sauce

A nearly vegetarian, 
spicy, creamy and smokey port sauce,
as versatile as it is tastes!

Introduction

I’ve made chicken in port sauce like a 100 times by now I guess. I don’t know what it is exactly, but these two just really work well together. Today I’m adding a spicy twist (not surprised are you?) to it and finishing it of with fresh basil and a smokey, creamy twist. To make sure we’re not left with any confused vegetarians here, I’ll get to the tagline above first. Out of all the meat one could pick, for this recipe I went with chicken, the most vegetable like meat of them all. Skip this one in the recipe and I’m quite sure it will still work out great! I also wanted to have smokey touches to this one, so I added chipotle, smoked bell pepper and some bacon to the mix.

Ingredients

Today I’m serving this one with pasta, you could also decide to go for a more stew-like version and serve it with rice or fries. The ingredients here are for a staggering amount of about 3.5 litre of pasta sauce. Adjust to your needs if trying this recipe out.

This recipe can be split into two major portions, being the chicken going out for a swim until it turns into a drunk duck, and the chef feeding it some more port for the desired finishing touch.

  • 800 g of Chicken filet cubes
  • 50 ml of Port wine
  • 30 ml of Peanut oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Chopped up basil
  • 1 Tablespoon of each: Tandoori, Cajun, Chipotle, Cumin, Smoked bell pepper
  • Chili peppers to taste: here about 3 fresh jalapeƱos

The marinade is obviously just the beginning of this recipe, and it will all be used after a while to make a splendid sauce. For that one, we need the following ingredients:

  • Chicken and marinade made before
  • 3 Onions
  • 3 Cloves of garlic
  • 500 g of Mushrooms
  • 3 Red Bell peppers
  • 1 Eggplant
  • Jar of tomato concentrate
  • Jar of tomato cubes
  • 50 ml of Port wine
  • 250 ml of cream
  • 30 ml of Smokey hot Italian fire or other peppers/sauces to your liking
  • A dash of Ketchup for a sweeter flavour

Preparation

Preparation wise this one is in fact surprisingly easy. For the chicken marinade, I just put all ingredients in a bowl and stir it into a smooth mixture. I add the chicken into a tray and make sure it is all nicely covered with marinade before putting it into the fridge for a couple of hours.

When all the preparations have been done for the sauce, it’s an easy thing to bring everything together. First we poor the marinade over into a large pot on high fire. As soon as the marinade is hot, we add the chicken to give it some colour. Subsequently, we add the vegetables one by one. Start off with the onion and garlic and let them simmer along until glazed. Add the mushrooms, bell pepper and eggplant and keep on stirring, while reducing the heat to a moderate level. Add the tomato concentrate, tomato cubes and the hot sauce to the mix, along with the port wine. Let everything simmer at low fire for at least half an hour. Add the cream before serving and let it boil in briefly. A bit of ketchup can give an extra sweet touch to this one if this is what you like. I’m sure I do!

Serving tips

Today I served this one with farfalle pasta, topped with some grated mozarella cheese and crispy bacon.

This sauce is quite versatile though, it can be prepared just as well to go as a stew with rice, potatoes or fries. Or why not use it for lasagne?

  • Try this recipe with different sides, you’ll be pleasantly amazed how well it goes down in different ways.
  • Try the marinade above for barbecue chicken, believe you me you’ll love it!
  • Try the same marinade, or even full recipe with red beers such as Rodenbach or a Cherry beer and it’ll just work out as a charm. The same holds for a nice and sweet red wine by the way!
  • This is one of these dishes for me in which the holy trinity of making food better do their magic again. There’s
    1) Bacon
    2) Cheese
    3) Ketchup
    which always work together, and always make a dish better. There, I’ve said it! Thought I was gonna say chili peppers right? I’m sorry, that’s kind of a given, no need to emphasise it here!

Pork Tenderloin in a creamy, spicy Rodenbach sauce

A simple yet sublime
sweet and sour mix
that works as a stew
or a pasta sauce!

Introduction

As a first full spicy main dish I share on this blog, I figured I better start with something really exciting. It’s a very versatile recipe that can work as a stew, a pasta sauce and that can be tailored with many other meats (or even work without as a vegetarian sauce). It gets sweet and sour touches from the Rodenbach beer, which pairs amazingly with cream and chili peppers! I’ve made this one many times before, sometimes with chicken, sometimes with veal, but always really sublime in flavour. For this particular occasion, I went with Pork Tenderloin from the Belgian Ardennes, which was slow-cooked in the oven. A very filling dish that works great on cold winter days, but also any other day of the year!

Ingredients

For this one it’s likely that you do not have all ingredients readily available, as I’m including my Smokey Hot Italian Fire sauce in this version. Don’t worry if you don’t have it, feel free to add any other spicy sauce (maybe even some ketchup for an extra sweet touch) to the mix, or just skip this one.

This recipe can pretty much be split into two parts, so therefore I’ll do the same with the description here and show the main ingredients in pictures.

  • 500g to 1000g of Pork Tenderloin (or other meat to taste)
  • 100g of Butter
  • 50ml of Peanut oil
  • Pepper and salt
  • Thyme
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Chopped parsley
  • Peppers to taste. Here 4 fresh cayenne peppers and some Chipotle, along with dried Habanero, Moruga Scorpion and Carolina Reaper

Some juicy piece of meat like this requires an appropriate sauce, which contains:

  • 100g of Butter
  • 50ml of Peanut Oil
  • 3 Red Onions (sliced)
  • 3 Sweet Bell Peppers (Sliced)
  • 500g (Brown) Mushrooms
  • 1 Rodenbach beer
  • 250ml of Cream
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chopped parsely
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Peppers to taste. I used 4 fresh cayenne peppers and added about 50ml of Smokey Hot Italian Fire sauce

Preparation

Since we’re slow-cooking the meat in the oven, it’s best to start out with that. As depicted in the picture, the Pork Tenderloin is kept in large pieces at the start, just to colour it in the frying pan first. All ingredients apart from the meat go straight into the pot. The combination of butter and peanut oil is used such that the temperature can reach a bit higher levels to really colour the meat quickly.

The tenderloin is than put into an oven tray, along with the juice from the frying pan. It’s wrapped in aluminum foil and put at 180 degrees for about 1 hour. Once it’s done, it comes out looking at the picture on the top. After slicing up and adding sauce (recipe right below) it shows a nice and moist pink inside along with a brown outside.

So time to also make that sauce right? Guess what, there’s plenty of time to make this one while the meat slow-cooks. So here it goes for the sauce!

I start with a bit of red wine vinegar, in the frying pan used for the meat before. This helps to release any bits and pieces from the meat that got stuck, we definitely want to keep that in the mix! After adding a bit of oil and butter to the pan, we chop in the onion first, followed by the mushrooms and the bell pepper. Stir on a low fire for a few minutes. Add the lemon juice, the hot sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Leave to simmer for some extra time. Now add in the Rodenbach and Cream and leave to boil in on a low fire until the meat is done.

Serving tips

This is how I decided to have this one today. With Penne and sided by Rodenbach.

  • Try this one as depicted with pasta, works really great!
  • The Rodenbach on the side is mandatory!
  • Note that for this recipe you could get fooled and think you’re fine with 1 or 2 Rodenbachs. This is a common mistake. Make sure to have at least 2 more cold ones for the cook!
  • Great with a potato based side-dishes (Fried, baked, boiled,…)

Sweet-and-sour Cayenne & Mint sauce

The perfect marriage between
sweet and sour fruits,
mint and cayenne peppers…

Introduction

This sauce is one I tried for the first time during the 2021 summer time. I’m a big fan of mint, but I never really tried to make a hot sauce with it. I got my inspiration for this sauce from one of my favourite Brazilian grill restaurants in Liverpool, where they make a superb version of lamb marinated with mint. I wanted to aim for something that would have a very fresh and sweet flavour, so therefore I combined sweet and sour fruits with cayenne peppers and added cardamom to the mixture. For a first shot, I really enjoyed this one in combination with grilled lamb, as depicted in the picture above.

Ingredients

The ingredients shown here are sufficient to make about 1 to 1.2 litres of this hot sauce. In this version, I only went for about 10 purple cayenne peppers as I wanted to keep it at a sensible level in terms of spiciness. I’m sure this would also work out great with other types of peppers, and the same holds for other apple varieties. I would recommend to go for green and sour ones to maintain the fresh flavour of this sauce, but sweeter types might work just as well.

  • 3 Granny Smith apples
  • 4 Kiwis
  • 3 Limes
  • 3 Onions
  • 20g Mint
  • 10g Cardamom
  • 200ml Apple cider vinegar
  • Peppers to taste
  • Salt to taste

Preparation

Peel the apples, kiwis and onions and chop them up coarsely. Add all of them in the blender, along with the cayenne peppers, mint, lime juice cardamom and the apple cider vinegar. Blend everything into a smooth mixture and add it to a pot to have it boiling in on low fire for about half an hour to one hour, depending on the preferred consistency of the sauce. Sample and add salt to taste.

Serving tips

This one was part of a batch of 3 sauces, that are depicted on the side here. In this recipe we look at the left one of the pack, the sweet-and-sour cayenne and mint sauce. In the middle is Mango-Habanero Hot Sauce and on the right there is the Smokey Hot Italian Fire Sauce.

  • Try this sauce with grilled lamb, as that’s what I made it for in the first place. I also like it a lot with other grilled meat, especially poultry or pork.
  • As most hot sauces, I like this one a lot with omelettes for breakfast.
  • The fresh character of this sauce makes it great to use in salads.
  • The acidity of this sauce makes it great to combine with fish too, so give that a shot!

Smokey Hot Italian Fire

A smokey barbecue
sauce in Italian style
!
Sweet yet sour,
smokey awesome sauce!

Introduction

This sauce has been through 4 or 5 generations by now. It’s definitely one I’m always proud of bringing to a barbecue party with friends! It combines many Italian touches, with fiercely hot peppers, chipotle from dried jalapeƱos with fresh basil. No not Basil Fawlty, although I’m pretty sure he’d be up for crazy sauce like this too. I’ve always been into the smokey hot sauces, but I wanted to have my own too. This one in fact was inspired by blend no. 7 from the late Chili Blender company, that also has smokey touches from chipotle. I’ve adjusted the recipe many times over the years, so what you get here is v. 3.0 or something (as some generations didn’t vary so much). This one is really great with grilled steak, with burgers, in your spaghetti sauce, on your omelettes, I could go on. Convinced? It’s not a complicated one, so give it a go! In case you were wondering, I put in 5 Carolina Reapers and 2 Moruga Scorpions in this one.

Ingredients

The ingredients shown here make up for about 1 to 1.5 litres of this smokey sauce. Note I went quite strong with the peppers here, so adjust to your liking! With this amount of acidity from the limes and the red wine vinegar, this sauce will easily keep for many months in the refrigerator. Over time, the sauce will evolve as some mild fermentation will happen as it ages, the sauce will “ripen” if you would like to call it like that. I definitely do!

  • 20g Fresh Basil
  • 2 Bell red bell peppers
  • 3 Tomatoes
  • 3 Onions
  • 5 Cloves of garlic
  • 3 Limes
  • Can of tomato concentrate
  • 20g Chipotle
  • 10g Cumin
  • 200ml Red wine vinegar
  • Peppers to taste (I’d recommend about 3 Habaneros for starters, go stronger if you know you can and want to)
  • Pinch of salt to taste

Preparation

This one is really easy to do! Clean the vegetables and chop all of them coarsely. Toss everything in the blender. Add the juice of the limes to the mixture, along with the tomato concentrate. Do not forget the chili peppers, chipotle, cumin, red wine vinegar and basil. Blend all into one smooth mixture and put it in a kettle to let it simmer for about half an hour to one hour. Sample and add salt to your personal liking.

Serving tips

This one was part of a batch of 3 sauces, that are depicted on the side here. In this recipe we look at the right one of the pack, the Smokey Hot Italian Fire Sauce. In the middle is Mango-Habanero Hot Sauce and on the left there’s the Sweet-and-sour Cayenne & Mint sauce!

  • Try this one with grilled meat. Pretty much any meat I’d say but I do recommend a very juicy steak! There, I’ve said it…
  • Add a bit to your spaghetti sauce, or just on top of your plate when serving.
  • Like pretty much any spicy sauce, try it on an omelette, really, really nice, believe me!
  • I’ve tried this one in plenty of other sauces I cooked, such as for meat balls in tomato sauce, or stuffed bell peppers in a spicy tomato sauce.
  • Try this one on a sandwich with some nice cooked ham, it works really well.
  • And have this with your kebab, any type of kebab, really!

Mango-Habanero Hot Sauce

A classic hot sauce
combining sweet and spicy,
adding an exciting twist
to a wide variety of dishes!

Introduction

Let me introduce you to the very first hot sauce I ever made myself, one that has been on the menu every season since, as it’s simply delicious. I definitely can’t take too much credit for the recipe here, as I got inspired by ChiliPepperMadness.com for this one. While the basis for my own version uses quite some of the same ingredients, over time I’ve made a few tweaks to the recipe where I change the ratio of ingredients and added a few more. I mainly like the versatility of this sauce, as it’s great to spice up dishes when they’re served, as well as to include in the mix when cooking.

Ingredients

The ingredients shown below were those used for my 2021 edition of the Mango-Habanero Hot Sauce. As I started from 2 fairly large mangos, the quantities of the other vegetables were also a bit larger than for previous ones. Overall these ingredients are sufficient for about 1 to 1.5 litres of hot sauce. Note that for this version, I went for 3 pepper varieties and two peppers of each kind. Obviously there’s red Habanero, but to spice it up it was sided by yellow Moruga Scorpions and red Carolina Reapers. This one’s not for the faint hearted!

  • 2 Mangos
  • 4 Tomatoes
  • 3 Onions
  • 3 Limes
  • 5 Cloves of garlic
  • 20g of Coriander
  • 10g of Cumin
  • 200ml of Red Wine Vinegar
  • Peppers to taste (I recommend at least a few Habaneros for this quantity)
  • A pinch of salt to taste

Preparation

First the mangos, onions and cloves of garlic are peeled and chopped coarsely, before putting them in the blender. The tomatoes, coriander and chili peppers are chopped as well and added to the mix along with the cumin. The juice of the limes and the red wine vinegar are added as well. Note that it might be necessary to do the blending in a few steps, depending on the size of your blender and how coarse you chop the ingredients. After blending sample a bit of the mix and add salt to your liking. Beware that before boiling in, the mix might be very spicy. The final step is to leave things simmer on a low fire until the desired consistency is reached. For a thin sauce it’s possible to filter after boiling or to add additional red wine vinegar or lime juice to the mixture earlier on.

Serving tips

As I mentioned in the introduction, this sauce is quite versatile, so I’ll just make a few suggestions of combinations I’ve tried with it, be sure to experiment and find out for yourself what else you could do with it!

  • Works really well with curries, just to spice it up in your plate or to use while cooking!
  • Works great with grilled meat, especially poultry, but also pork and beef are worth trying.
  • Try this one for spicing up your breakfast. I love this sauce in combination with omelettes or even just on a sandwich with some boiled eggs.
  • Try once with your spaghetti Bolognese, you’ll be amazed how good these two mingle!
  • Try this sauce as a dip for your tortilla chips once, works like a charm!
  • Works nice as well with salads, I especially like the combination with carrots for this one!

Pineapple-Mango Habanero jam

A sweet and spicy jam
that’s weirdly versatile…

Introduction

This jam has quickly made it into a classic that is in my fridge all the time these days. It’s one of the first spicy jams I ever made and that immediately hit the right spot for me. Like many jams this one is surprisingly easy and quick to make, so don’t hesitate to try this one at home!

Ingredients

The ingredients listed here start from 1 full pineapple and mango, which makes a bit over 1 litre of this jam.

  • 1 Pineapple
  • 1 Mango
  • 3 Limes
  • 200g Sugar
  • 1 Coffee spoon cinnamon
  • Chili peppers to taste (3 Habaneros is my recommendation)

Preparation

Start by peeling the mango and pineapple and cut them into coarse pieces. These go straight into the blender, along with chopped up pieces of the chili peppers, the lime juice, the sugar and the cinnamon. After blending everything into one smooth mixture, boil it in for about half an hour on low heat.

Depending on your personal preference, you can adjust the boiling time or the ratio between ingredients to end up with the desired consistency. If you prefer to have a more chunky type of jam, you can skip the blending step and slowly start from (smaller) chunks of fruit instead.

Note that the (added) sugar and lime juice help for extended preservation time. The fully blended version can also easily be frozen into smaller portions without it losing its consistency. With the ingredients mentioned here, the jam can easily be kept for several months in the fridge. This could be further prolonged when adding larger quantities of sugar.

Serving tips

Jams are quite versatile in general, so I guess people don’t need too much inspiration as to what to use them for. For this one in particular, I just like to share some tips on combinations I’ve tried and enjoyed…

  • Try this one on pancakes for breakfast, it’ll kick start your day in style!
  • Works great just on sandwiches, by itself or in combination with cheese for example.
  • Works really well with grilled meats too, as a replacement or addition to hot sauces.
  • Blend this one into pastries or desert for a gentle spicy touch, you won’t be disappointed. I’ll post some suggested recipes in future for inspiration.
  • Add this jam to your curries for a sweet touch, works out just fine!

Habanero Limoncello

This spicy variation on the Italian classic is
simply mouthwatering! It works great as
an appetiser, digestive or just as a side
when having drinks among friends.

Introduction

Limoncello is a well-known Italian classic that is loved by many. It’s both enjoyed as an appetiser when summer is in full swing or as a digestive after dinner at your favourite Italian. It’s also available form the liquor section in grocery stores worldwide, but let me tell you right now, once you’ve tried this one, you’ll never ever buy it again. After making a first batch, I’ve made many more and I pretty much always have Limoncello in my freezer ever since.

The reasons for that are obvious:
(1) Limoncello is super nice
(2) Limoncello is easy to make
(3) Limoncello is quick to make
(4) Limoncello should ALWAYS be drank ice and ice cold

The recipe I share below is based on one I received from an Italian friend, which I’ve spiced up, as that’s what I like to do. Skip the peppers in the recipe and it still makes for a great non-spicy limoncello, one that I typically make along with any batch of spicy ones I start.

I intentionally called this recipe Habanero limoncello instead of spicy limoncello, as I want to emphasise how – in my humble opinion – habanero and limoncello really are a match made in heaven. Habanero peppers have some lemony touches to their flavour, which really makes them blend in more perfectly into limoncello than any other peppers I’ve tried before. I’m quite sure you won’t be surprised I’ve tried a few? Below I show some examples of peppers I’ve tried last summer, but I would encourage anyone to experiment with your own favourites and adjust the amount of chilis added to your liking. The same holds for the other ingredients, it’s relatively straightforward to play with ratios to adjust the flavour to your liking. At the same time it might also be interesting to play with the infusion period in the different steps to fine tune the flavour to your personal taste. What I’ve described here is my base recipe that I really enjoy, but I expect to still adjust it and experiment further. Should I find a better combination, I won’t be shy to release it over here!

The recipe is described starting from 1 litre of pure alcohol, which is sufficient to make a total of about 3 litres of limoncello. The overall cost for these ingredients is about 50 EUR in Belgian supermarkets, meaning the cost per litre of final product is about 17 EUR. This is a common price to pay for just half a litre of commercial limoncello in retail over here, which definitely won’t be as good as your own!

Ingredients

  • 1 Litre of “pure” alcohol (typically 96% ABV)
  • 8 Lemons
  • 1.2 kg Sugar
  • 1.4 l Water
  • Chili peppers to taste (3 to 12 Habaneros is my recommendation)

Preparation

So let’s get started. First of all, we need preservation jars that are sufficiently large. I typically use 2 litre jars in which I start from half a litre of alcohol, which makes about 1.5 litres of limoncello after 3 weeks. If you stick to the numbers listed in the ingredient list, you’d need a minimum volume of 3 litres if you want to work with a single jar, but you could just as well split the contents of one jar when adding the syrup after the initial infusion period.

We start by rinsing the lemons thoroughly with water (I typically leave them in water for an hour or so). Many people recommend organic lemons for making limoncello, I’ve never done so as I always feel like I’m getting ripped off when buying any organic vegetables and fruits. Most importantly, pick lemons of which the peel looks nice, healthy and which are sufficiently fresh. Subsequently we use a peeler (vegetable scraper) to slice off the lemon peels and mix them together with the alcohol in the preservation jar, as shown in the picture below.

Initial stage of limoncello infusion. Preservation jars with half a littre of alcohol, peel of 4 lemons and peppers added to taste. Left: six jars with different pepper infusions. Right: Close-up of sliced up habanero with lemon peels in alcohol.

In the run shown in the picture, I tested 6 varieties with my harvest from the 2021 chili pepper season. These were the mixes included in the experiment, with the amount of peppers per half litre of alcohol at the start and the total per litre at the end:

  1. Plain (no chili peppers / 0 peppers/litre)
  2. Moruga scorpion (1 chili / 0.667 peppers/litre)
  3. Carolina Reaper (1 chili / 0.667 peppers/litre)
  4. Habanero Red (3 chilis / 2 peppers/litre)
  5. Carolina Reaper & Moruga Scorpion (1 of each / 0.667 of each pepper/litre)
  6. Habanero Red (6 chilis / 4 peppers/litre)

The jars are then stored for one week in a dark and cold spot. A basement is perfect, but also a dark cupboard at room temperature will do fine.

After one week, the syrup needs to be prepared and added to the jars. For this the sugar and water are mixed into a cooking pot which is heated up slowly to dissolve the sugar. There’s no need to bring the mixture to the boiling point, but one should slowly stir util all of the sugar is dissolved. Subsequently let the mixture cool down and then add 1 litre to each preservation jar (when starting from half a litre of alcohol as done in the example here). Upon adding the syrup, the mixture will immediately convert to a typical limoncello colour, which might differ a bit depending on the peppers used. The preservation jars will then be stored for two more weeks in a cold and dark spot for the second stage of the infusion.

The 6 varieties after topping up with syrup for the second stage of the infusion.

After two more weeks, our limoncello is just about ready. We only need to filter out the lemon peels and the chili peppers to end up with our final product. I typically filter the solution twice through simple coffee filters. A filter cloth would work just as well, use whatever you have available.

The result after 3 weeks of infusion, 6 varieties of limoncello.

After filtering, the limoncello can be bottled and is ready for sampling. Well, nearly ready, it should first go into the freezer for a few hours, as limoncello is best when served ice cold.

I mentioned before that my personal favourite is Habanero limoncello, and both strengths tried here I really like. For those that are not into super spicy but like some punch, going lower than the numbers mentioned here will still be worthwhile I believe. To my surprise, the experiments with the Carolina Reapers and Moruga Scorpions were not crazy extreme in terms of heat levels, but of course they have the typical flavour of the peppers in there. Fans of these peppers won’t be disappointed, I’m still primarily in love with the Habanero flavour for limoncello. Carolina reaper has some smokiness to its aroma, which definitely is intriguing in Limoncello too.

All that’s left
for me to say is….

Cheers!

Serving tips

While anything I could say about regular limoncello also holds for Habanero limoncello, a few more serving tips might be useful…

  • Serve ice and ice cold, really always preserve your limoncello in your freezer.
  • Be aware that when not having spicy limoncello ice cold, the initial burn will be more intense.
  • For the fun of it, you can put a spicy bottle of limoncello next to a regular one to give a bit of burn by surprise to your guests. Obviously only do this with people that can appreciate spicy stuff, I wouldn’t want to start any fights between you and your friends.
  • Have this one as an appetiser for a spicy meal or as a digestive after, works really great during the summer grilling season!