I received an education in hot sauce just recently when the brothers divulged how they make their special brew with the dried Featherstone cayenne “Ring of Fire” peppers that you find in your box this week, or as the brothers call it cola de rata - rat’s tail. Both names for this small scarlet red pepper seem appropriate. Salvador conjured up a handful of cilantro and a jar of tomato puree, then called me out from the office to see how it was done. Ole was at the stove roasting about nine chiles on the skillet, covering his mouth with the neck of his shirt. I was just about to ask why he was doing that when I caught the whiff of intense flame in the place where the back of my tongue meets my throat. They chuckled as my eyes widened, considering the seeds that could emit such a powerful heat. I coughed a bit, backed up and watched the rest of the process.
Ole tossed the roasted chiles (seeds and all) into a blender with about ½ cup of water and blended it thoroughly, to a liquidy pulp. Then this mixture went into a bowl with a container of tomato puree and about a teaspoon of salt, then a healthy handful of chopped cilantro and another of diced onion. Salvador dropped a spoonful into his palm and licked it off, then encouraged me to try some. Now was my moment of truth; I copied Salvador and licked my hand, not dying as I thought I might. I even took another bite, and then put some in a tortilla. But I found out that his was the kind of heat that takes a while to fully accumulate in the mouth. The bridge of Salvador’s nose began to bead with sweat, and I started to get the hiccups. “Sabroso, no?” Ole said between laughs, and I agreed - it tasted great.
For those who would like a milder version of this hot sauce, the Gascas recommend using 5 peppers instead of 9 (or even less if you’re very unsure) and taking out all the seeds instead of leaving them in. Do this with gloves though, and make sure that your hands don’t touch your face. Then, you too can add a little bit of Guanajuato to your 5 degree winter day. Enjoy!