Sunday 14 August 2011

Chilli down with the fire gang

At the end of last winter, we gave one of our Twilight chillis to friends. They had grown too big to have two, and we figured that one would fulfill our hot chilli requirements.

The remaining plant was repotted, pruned, and Paul started fertilising it in preparation for the 2011 growing season.

I'm not quite sure what he did, but it works! The top of the canopy now measures 180cm across, and it is covered in glossy, upright chillis. It sort of looks like one of those big acacias in Africa that gets nibbled to shape by giraffes.

The chilli sauce recipe that I developed last year was so good, this year's entire crop will be going into it. Half will be smoked over beech chips and half left plain. I've made two batches so far. Picking the ripe fruit only seems to make it more productive, so I think our hot sauce needs are taken care of!

My smoked sauce is standing as my entry for the August Forging Fromage challenge - instead of the habanero hot sauce recipe given. Why buy habaneros when you have an endless supply of Twilights?

We'd also decided that we really needed a milder chilli, that we could use more freely, like a vegetable.

After a bit of research we settled on the Hungarian Hot Wax, which seemed like a versatile cultivar. Our two seem to be slightly larger than the 70cm plants we were anticipating... which again I have to put down to Paul's diligent fertiliser regimen. They are getting thrice-weekly feeds with tomato fertiliser, and they seem pretty darn happy on it.

When they get a bit riper, we're planning to pickle some of them like jalapenos. We also have (possibly delusional) thoughts about smoking and drying some fully ripe ones to use like pimenton, although I am not convinced that Hertfordshire has the right climate for drying chillis.

Our first outing for them, however, was stuffing them with garlic and herb cream cheese, wrapping them in bacon and grilling them. Gorgeous. Very "green" tasting still, but with a nice gentle warmth at the stem end where the membranes are concentrated. Definitely a useful chilli.

By the way - anyone who doesn't recognise the title hasn't seen Labyrinth recently enough.


leaf (the indolent cook) said...

I love the sound of that chilli sauce. And that grilled chilli with cream cheese and bacon... do want.

Bettina Douglas said...

How do you get Urchin to do that pose?

Suelle said...

I'm growing a 'Super Chilli' plant this year. It's a Thai chilli, but looks and sounds similar to yours for heat levels. Much smaller plant though. I'm getting hundreds of chillis from it, so might try a sauce!

Alicia Foodycat said...

Leafy - the chilli stuffed with cream cheese was delicious!

Mother - it was spontaneous - she was chasing a fly.

Suelle - The sauce is very simple and good, so you should try it!

Angie's Recipes said...

LOL @ your cat staring at the chilli plant! Really so fun and sweet!
Homemade chilli sauce must have tasted great!

Choclette said...

Goodness what an amazing number of chillis from just one plant. I so love the colour of the sauce. Ours fades over time, starts bright red then becomes darker as the months go by. I tried making sauce with our yellow scotch bonnet type ones one year and I didn't like the resulting colour of that at all, so never made it again. I'm really salivating at the thought of your cream cheese stuffed chillis.

Alicia Foodycat said...

Angie - the smoked one is particularly addictive.

Choclette - this sauce didn't fade or darken, but the one we made from the purple chillis faded to yellow, which was disappointing!

Joanne said...

Wow I love that you made your own chili sauce from your own chilis!

kat said...

Peppers are having a tough year here because of the crazy weather we've had but for some reason the Ho Chi Minh is doing great. Might have you try your hot sauce recipe with them.

Caroline said...

Wow, your chilli harvest is very impressive indeed!

I'd be a rubbish guest at yours though - my heat tolerance is nil!!! Wish I had Paul's green fingers though - all I can manage at the moment is some fruit bushes that need (and receive) no attention and rosemary and mint bushes, which thankfully seem impossible to kill!

Alicia Foodycat said...

Joanne - thanks!

Kat - they wouldn't have coped outside - the orange bell pepper we had outside got munched by slugs to the ground.

C - that was why we grew a mild one! The Twilight are WAY too hot!

Deb in Hawaii said...

Loving Urchin by the chili plant. ;-) Your chillis are impressive. I fully expect to see you with your own brand of hot sauce some day.;-)

Jude said...

My next husband will be a chilli lover, I promise. Congratulations to Paul.

Alicia Foodycat said...

Deb - we were just discussing that we want to be as famous as the McIlhenny's!

Jude - I think the mushrooms are a more important requirement for your next husband.

Kelly said...

The cream cheese stuffed peppers look delicious. I love the idea of container gardening. You don't need to be a farmer to have fresh, tasty produce. Here is another variety you should try... Tangerine Dream (you can order seeds from places like burpee). They're sweet with a little heat, and they're beautiful orange in color. Best of all, they grow great in an urn.

Cheers, Kelly


NKP said...

Twilight chilies - I haven't heard of them before - they look great! I love how green your man's thumb is!
We grow some assorted hot peppers in pots, including the Hungarian ones - I will definitely be trying your cheese-stuffed, bacon-wrapped ones!
Love the hot sauce - absolutely delicious.

Heather S-G said...

Mmmm...delicious post on all accounts. Those twilight chiles are so pretty, I don't think I've ever seen or heard of them before. And the grilled jalapeño's are making my tummy growl.

Alicia Foodycat said...

La Magica Zucca - thanks for visiting my blog.

Kelly - I am a huge fan of container gardening. Especially since we are on chalk and it is really painful to dig!

Natashya - they are a pretty new variety, developed in New Mexico.

Heather - wrapped chillis in bacon is the best thing ever!


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