Habanero sugar was the spark that reignited the fire.
Sugar with a fiery kick, the sweet sugar dissolves into fiery heat as if the flavors were dancing a torrid flamenco on my tongue. What a brilliant combination! Why hadn’t I thought of this?? A stocking stuffer gift packed with inspiration.
It is terrific as part of a dry rub for roast chicken and it added a crazy zing to fried okra shards. OK, true confession: I covered some chicken thighs with the habanero sugar, added some of the lemon peel salt, and a lot of hot sauce. Then I made a blue cheese dip and we had Buffalo thighs...they were awesome! Junk food done right. Isn't that a food trend in 2011?
Lemon Peel Salt & Pepper
Being a politically correct eater, I honor my lemons by using all parts of the fruit. Lemons in my house are likely to be skinned before being juiced. (Buying lemons in Italy isn’t simple, an involved fruit seller will want to know exactly what you are doing with the lemon before he chooses the correct type of fruit that will yield exactly the right peel. Do you have any idea how long this can take when you are standing behind a lady who needs to discuss her entire life history of lemon buying??)
Back to salt: grate a generous amount of lemon and/or orange peel into a bowl of salt. Grind in lots and lots of pepper. Leave the bowl out overnight so the lemon peel will be completely dry. Store the lemon salt in a jar and use it every time you need salt and a little citrus lift.
This is one of those things that is so dumb easy, you forget to do it, and then when you have it on hand, you realize just how useful it is. Into the rice water, a little finishing sprinkle on a pork chop, over roasted potatoes with chopped parsley, it’s a secret weapon.
Herbal salt on seared meat. Do I need to say more? The only downside is the color makes it look like you just sprinkled cigarette ash on the plate.
Chili Pepper Infused Orange Peel
Make a simple syrup (equal parts water & sugar) with a few chili peppers tossed in, then boil the orange peel until it’s soft. Dehydrate and grind. It’s killer good on top of chocolate mousse, and it’s not too shabby sprinkled over grilled shrimp.
Combining flavors like this brings out my inner mad scientist; why not push the boundary between sweet and savory? Whoever thinks being in the kitchen is all drudgery should wake up and look around.
PS Label those sugars and salts! That is, unless you like habanero sugar in your coffee.
Haanero Sugar Source: Spiceandtea.com
Nice people in Portland who make good stuff!