Habaneros, Ghosts and Scorpions… Oh My!

I try to know my limits.  How much can I eat without feeling stuffed and immobile?  How much can I drink without getting schnocked and then waking up hung over? I have even allowed such better judgment to govern my hot pepper intake.  It used to be that I looked forward to eating food so hot that the sweat would be dripping off the end of my nose.  Although my mouth can still handle the heat, with each passing year the unfortunate truth is that my gut makes me pay dearly for the pleasure the next day.

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Knowing this I have stayed away from the recent additions to the nuclear arsenal now embraced by extreme fire eaters, namely the Ghost and now the Scorpion peppers. If I have to be judicious with Habaneros (which clock in at 350,000 scovilles) what possible interest could I have in peppers that tip the scales at 1,000,000 and 1,500,000 respectively?

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But on a beautiful September afternoon I threw all that caution to the wind and decided to make a hot pepper mash using all three members of the Holy (Shit That’s Hot) Trinity of hot peppers mentioned above.

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Based on much previous experience the first thing to do was to make sure I could work DSC_3290outside using the side burner of my grill.  I made the mistake of making a mash using only habaneros indoors once.  If you have ever been pepper sprayed then you have an idea of what it was like trying to breathe in my kitchen once those peppers hit the hot oil in the pan.

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DSC_3293With that object lesson firmly in mind I took my garlic, onion, peppers, salt and honey out into the garage.  From there I thought it would be simple.  Cook things down then puree.  I knew I did not want to lean too far over the pan because of the toxic fumes.  Little did I know what I was actually in for.

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After five minutes of cooking I found I was coughing anytime I approached the pan.  Meanwhile, one floor above and inside what I thought was the relative safety of the house my wife had run around and frantically closed all the windows because even the trace amounts that blew in were making her quite unhappy.

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By the time I transferred from pan to food processor my throat was tight and my cheeks were burning as if I had touched them after handling the peppers.  The sweat was dripping from my forehead and nose the way it does after eating a hot vindaloo curry.  If just being around this concoction has this effect I can only imagine what actually ingesting it will do. I tried the tiniest amount on a tortilla chip and it left my tongue happily burning for five minutes.

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DSC_3302Since you may be wondering the same thing let me tell you what I have done with past (albeit it milder) batches.   I tend to use a teaspoon to tablespoon amount of the mash as an ingredient in making the sauce for my Ultimate Wings.  You can also use it to spice up chili or if you are daring use a little as a relish on a cheese steak or other sandwich.  The good news is that you don’t have to use it quickly.  Just store it in some tupperware in your fridge and it will last for a year or more.  I can only assume that it is so toxic that no bacteria can grow in it.

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I look forward to testing my limits and trying my triple threat mash as part of some new daring dish.  I will post an update when I do.  If you make it for yourself  please let us know how you like it!  And whenever you do make sure you have a cold beer (or six) handy to quench the flames.

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