Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Ginger Mustard Habanero Chicken Fingers

     There are many health benefits from hot chile peppers, but often the medicinal effects are overlooked.  Hot sauce fans tend to be more concerned about the flavor and spicy heat range of a hot sauce.  Some fanatics like their hot sauce as hot as it gets. 
     I have been known to occasionally make a hot sauce that is spicy enough to peel the paint off the walls!  In the past, I have worked with tough Mexican cooks in restaurant kitchens that would not even touch a hot sauce that I made.  Their reaction to being offered my hot sauce went something like:  "You know something, Mon ... I like spicy hot sauce, but you are crazy!"  
     Mexican cooks and I used to have fun baiting waiters and chefs with chicken wings that were drenched with my super spicy hot sauce.  One bite and they were in endorphin heaven!  Most could not finish eating more than one spicy chicken wing, before running to the water tank.
     One such time, I offered a spicy bite to an English Pub owner who was standing twenty feet away.  The pub owner responded with a heavy English Liverpool accent and said, "Are you bloody crazy?  I can smell that hot sauce all the way over here and it is actually burning my eyes!"  

     There are few chile peppers that are spicier than a ripe habanero.  Ghost peppers and Trinidad Scorpion Peppers are at the top of the habanero varietal heat range.  Ghost peppers and Trinidad Scorpion Peppers are natural hybrids or selectively bred hybrids of habaneros and scotch bonnet peppers.  Caribbean scotch bonnets are a variety of habanero.  Truth be told, the worlds hottest pepper is and most likely will always be one from this family of Caribbean peppers. 
     Standard common ripe orange colored habaneros were used to make the habanero hot sauce in today's recipe.  Ripe orange habaneros are extremely strong and the spicy heat hits the palate immediately.  Orange habaneros are intensely hot and they have a great flavor!  Orange habaneros are about as spicy as most people are willing to try. 

     Straight orange habanero hot sauce can be modified to create a secondary sauce flavor.  Mustard is popular in the Caribbean and so is ginger.  Many pre-made bottled Caribbean hot sauces have mustard and ginger in the list of ingredients.  This style of Caribbean hot sauce has a nice flavor and the spicy heat is only marginally toned down.

     Habanero Hot Sauce:
     This recipe yields about 1 pint of sauce.  The volume depends on whether a thin or thick hot sauce is preferred.  
     Be sure to wear rubber gloves when handling habanero chile peppers.  Habaneros are super spicy hot!
     This recipe is written in a way that requires minimum direct contact with the habanero peppers.  A food processor, blender or blending wand is required for pureeing this sauce.  The sauce is pureed twice, so it becomes a very smooth consistency.
     Remove the stems from 1/2 pound of orange habanero peppers. 
     Use a knife to slice about halfway through each pepper, but do not cut the peppers in half.
     Place the peppers in a stainless steel sauce pot.
     Add enough water to cover the peppers, with 2" of extra water.
     Add 4 cloves of garlic.
     Add 1/4 cup of chopped onion.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of cumin.
     Add 1 teaspoon of coriander.
     Add 1 1/2 ounces of cider vinegar.
     Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1 teaspoon of sea salt.
     Add 3 pinches of white pepper.
     Place the pot over low heat.
     Allow the ingredients to gently simmer, till the peppers become very soft.  (About 1 1/2 to 2 hours.)
     Allow the liquid to reduce.  Only add enough water to cover the peppers with about 1" of liquid.
     Remove the pot from the heat and allow the ingredients to cool to room temperature.
     Puree the ingredients with an electric blending wand, a food processor or a blender.
     Return the thin puree to the stainless steel pot.
     Place the pot over low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce the puree, till is becomes a thin sauce consistency that does not look watery.
     Remove the pot from the heat and allow the ingredients to cool to room temperature.
     Puree the sauce a second time, so it becomes very smooth.
     The orange habanero hot sauce should look like the finished product in the photographs above!
     Orange habanero hot sauce has a long shelf life, if the sauce is kept refrigerated. 

     Ginger Mustard Habanero Hot Sauce:
     This recipe yields enough for 1 large portion of chicken fingers!
     Place 3 ounces of the orange habanero hot sauce in a small sauce pot.
     Add 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard.
     Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of ginger paste.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1/2 cup of water.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Place the pot over low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce the sauce, till it becomes a thin puree sauce consistency.
     Keep the sauce warm on a stove top.

     Ginger Mustard Habanero Chicken Fingers:
     This recipe yields 1 serving that can be shared.
     Season 2 cups of flour in a mixing bowl with sea salt and black pepper.
     Cut a 6 to 8 ounce chicken breast into long thin chicken finger strips.
     Place the chicken strips in a mixing bowl.
     Add 2 ounces of milk.
     Toss the chicken strips with the milk.
     Remove the chicken strips from the milk.
     Dredge a few of the chicken strips at a time in the seasoned flour.
     Add enough vegetable frying oil to a cast iron skillet, so the oil is 1/4" to 1/2" deep.
     Heat the oil to 360ยบ.
     Pan fry the chicken fingers, till they become crispy golden brown on both sides and fully cooked.  (Try to only turn the chicken finger once!)
     Place the pan fried chicken fingers on a wire screen rack to drain on a drip pan to off any excess oil.

     Arrange the chicken fingers on a plate, so they fan out from center.
     Spoon a generous amount of the ginger mustard habanero hot sauce on the plate around the chicken fingers and spoon a little bit of the sauce over the chicken fingers.
     Garnish the plate with Italian parsley sprigs and Persian Pickled Lemon Wedges.  ( Persian Pickled Lemon is nice with spicy food.  The entire whole Persian Pickled Lemon is edible.  These are available in Mediterranean Markets.) 

     This is a spicy hot and tasty chicken finger appetizer that is perfect for a ballgame snack!  Be sure to have an ice cold beer or drink handy for when the habanero heat kicks in!

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