If you want to add a little kick to whatever you're eating, nothing beats a couple of dabs of hot sauce. Doesn't matter if it's pizza or wings or whatever you consider to be the third major food group. And while Sriracha's got a bit of a vice grip on the collective American hot sauce consciousness, we enlisted the help of Glenn, a hot sauce-enthusiast and owner of New Hope, PA specialty store Suzies Hot Shoppe, to find out how to increase your hot sauce consumption in new and exciting ways, and pair your favorite food's flavor profile with a hot sauce you might never have considered.
People are increasingly fond of using hot sauce on their pizza, but they’ll often go for a generic brand that doesn’t really showcase the flavors of the dough and cheese. Glenn says: “I find that a sauce with a nice blend of flavors such as garlic and onion always goes well with any pizza, no matter the toppings or crust. Our choice would be ROAD KILL. Habanero adds a little kick.”
On the half shell, you’re going to want to go for something bold with a citrusy kick of acidity to bring out the seafood’s natural flavors. Glenn says: “Our favorite is BLAIR’S ORIGINAL DEATH, a great chipotle-garlic vinegar & habanero sauce. A little dab’ll do ya.” He’s not lying about the “dab’ll do ya” credo -- Blair’s hot sauces range from Sweet Death to Ultra Death, which maxes out at 800,000 Scoville units, or 160 times hotter than a jalapeño pepper.
The most important meal of the day requires a bit of thought when it comes to hot sauce. You don’t want to mess it up! A unique, versatile blend of sweet and salty notes can be difficult to find in a hot sauce, but our expert’s got just the stuff. Glenn says: “No question the best thing ever for any breakfast plate -- eggs, all meats, pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, cream of wheat, homefries, hash browns, chicken-fried steak… STOP ME -- is BENITO'S CHIPOTLE OR HABANERO INFUSED ORGANIC MAPLE SYRUP.” Apparently, even ice cream tastes good with a little Benito’s on top. With more and more heat-heads pressing the market to innovate, we may soon be seeing more syrups and sauces infused with chili peppers.
When using hot sauce on a bowl of noodles or soup, you want to find something that has a higher heat level, because the liquid in the dish will dilute the flavor. Glenn recommends a chili pepper mash instead of a sauce: “If you want to get the authentic Thai flavor, you can use SAMBAL OELEK, which is a chopped version of the Sriracha pepper. It’s the red stuff on the table at most Asian restaurants.”
MAC & CHEESE
Instead of going with a traditional hot sauce for macaroni & cheese, Glenn advises finding a pepper at your level of spice comfort and adding it into the mix. Put down the bottle for a second and try this: “Chop up whatever’s your pleasure, mix in, and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Don’t stir after it's in the oven so you get a nice crust on top."
Glenn says: “The hands-down choice for a real Mexican food flavor is OAXACAN hot sauce. Its simple recipe of peppers, brown sugar, cumin, and garlic” goes with just about anything that comes from South of the Border.
Glenn says: “To kick up your beverages of choice, I suggest purees
. They’re normally just a strained version of whatever pepper you want that mix very well into cocktails of all sorts. There are also spicy pre-made mixes (Bloody Mary, margarita, etc.) that can be added to your drink recipe as an additional ingredient so that everybody can contour their glass to the heat level desired.”
WINGS AND PORK
When it comes to saucing up meat, different cuts of animals have different needs in terms of what will work with their textures. Glenn says: “Wings, a staple as far as we’re concerned, must be crispy and juicy. Our suggestion is this: cook your wings however you like. Bake, broil, or fry -- doesn’t matter. But no sauce 'til you’re walking them to the table! Don’t marinate them first or let them sit in the sauce before you serve them. Lightly coat them with GRIFFIN WING SAUCE
when you serve and have the rest of the sauce at the table. If they sit in the sauce too long the vinegar will eat into the skin and the meat and make them mushy.”
On the other hand, saturating the meat is an ideal method when dealing with pork tenderloin. You can even use the same hot sauce in the interest of efficiency! Isn’t America grand? Glenn says: “Dry season the pork however you like, then cover the top with GRIFFIN WING SAUCE
. Seal it up in foil real tightly and bake at 375 for 90 minutes. In this case, the vinegar in the sauce breaks down the pork and draws all the seasonings into the meat.” You can even pour the drippings into a gravy boat. The vinegar breaks down the fat and makes it useable right from the pouch. Glenn says it’s “LIKE BUTTAAH”, which we're pretty sure is a good thing.
Adam Lapetina is a food/drink staff writer at Thrillist, and is proud to call himself a Chilihead. Read his musings on Twitter at @adamlapetina.