If there’s one thing that unites us in the UK, it’s a love for drizzling or dolloping sauces over and alongside our meals. In fact, a poll commissioned by Waitrose last summer found that over a third of us have 5-6 jars or bottles of different condiments in their fridge.
As we hit peak summer, lots of us are also trying to find ways to utilise the crops from our veg patches and greenhouses. Last year a friend and I developed a recipe for an absolutely banging smoked chilli sauce that you can buy bottles of from the cookery school or Cove Café. We’re talking Cornish chillis that have been fermented for a fortnight, local apple cider vinegar, confit garlic, and smoking peppers, onions and tomatoes over cherry and oak wood. We went deep on this one!
If you can’t get your hands on a bottle before it all sells out, and if you’ve been growing chillies at home this year like our friend Matt (pictured), then I’ve got a simpler recipe for you to try so that you can put the fruits of your greenhouse or windowsill to good use and cook up a batch of this smokey chilli sauce. It’s incredible poured over…. absolutely everything.
Sterilising your jars or bottles
Wash your jars and lids in warm soapy water and leave to dry on a draining rack – don’t touch the insides! You can dry the lids with a clean, dry, tea towel.
Place the jars and lids in a preheated oven at 180c/160c fan/gas 4 for fifteen minutes.
Remove, allow to cool, and use!
500g Chillis (a couple of handfuls, or about 20 chillis, but go steady if you grew Scotch Bonnets like Matt)
1 red onion
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 vine of cherry tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
Thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger (grated)
300g castor sugar
250ml apple cider vinegar
1 – 1.5l water (you can use half and half cloudy apple juice if you like)
1 bay leaf
Rosemary – sprig
Thyme – small bunch
Whether you have a biscuit tin smoker that you can pop on your barbecue (see here for how to make one yourself) an offset smoker, or are keeping it as simple as a barbecue with a lid, smoke the chillis and garlic for an hour or two. If you have any fruit wood or shavings (apple or cherry) that’d be ideal. Whilst your barbecue is lit, char the peppers, onions and tomatoes.
Remove the skin from the charred veg, and roughly chop with the smoked chillis. Put it all into a large pot or casserole, add the rest of the ingredients going easy on the water or diluted apple juice (start with a litre and add more later if required) and bring up to the boil.
Simmer for an hour over a low heat. Season and taste to check – you can adjust the water, vinegar and sugar to get the balance you’re after.
Blend it with a stick-blender or in batches in a food processor – you can keep it fairly rough or blitz it for a while and then push it through a sieve with the back of a spoon if you want a super smooth sauce. It’s up to you!
Check the seasoning and balance one last time, allow to cool, then decant into your sterilised jars or bottles.Store in a cool cupboard for up to a couple of months, and once opened keep it in the fridge and use it with a week or two. Which won’t be hard.