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Dr. Kitchener's Hot Stuff

Dr. Kitchener's Hot Stuff
1/4 to 1/2 lb. small fresh hot red peppers of any kind available
1/2 c. dry sherry
1/2 c. brand of good quality
1/2 c. strained fresh lime juice
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. ground hot red (Cayenne) pepper, optional
1. Taking due precautions*, rinse and drain the peppers. Cut out and discard the stems, being careful to retain the cores and seeds. Slice the peppers roughly into the container of a blender or food processor.
2. Cover the machine and chop the peppers; gradually add the sherry and the brandy, continuing to run the machine until a rough puree is made. Add the lime juice and salt; add the ground hot red pepper if mild peppers have been used.
3. Scrape the mixture into a clean, dry pint-size jar. Cover the top with a square of nylon net or 2 layers of cheesecloth, held in place with the band portion of a canning lid. Set the jar in a warm spot in the kitchen and allow the mixture to ripen and swap around its flavors for at least 2 weeks, better 3, giving it a gentle shake now and then.
4. Taste the sauce and add more ground got red pepper if you think it is needed. Pour the sauce into the container of a blender and puree it again, this time making it as smooth as possible; some fragments of skin and some seeds will refuse to be purlverized, however. Press the sauce through a very fine-meshed sieve, then funnel it into a bottle suitable for table use. Cap the sauce tightly and store it in the refrigerator (to keep hotness longer) or the cupboard. It separates a bit as it stands, so it needs to be shaken before use. Makes 1 c.

*A caution: when preparing any kind of fresh hot peppers, work at arms' length, or at least not close to your face, preferably wearing rubber gloves; never, never touch your face (most especially your eyes) after handling peppers until your hands have been most thoroughly washed and dried. Soap and rinse rubber gloves, too, as well as any utensils that have come in contact with these fiery vegetables.

-from Fancy Pantry, by Helen Witty (Workman, 1986)



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