WHAT IS IT?
Even with upstart hybrids, like ghost peppers, and Carolina reapers, the habanero’s big flavor, along with the heat, still makes it one of the most popular ingredient in hot sauces, and spicy foods.
The habanero possesses an intense heat: 100,000–350,000 SHU. The ground lacks a bit of the pleasant, citrusy, flavor that is found in the fresh. Instead, it has a bit more mellow aroma of oranges, and tangerines, and a more consistent heat level. When saturated in liquids, there are aromatic notes of ripe nectarine.
Habanero peppers grow outdoors from South America, to the Southern United States. They do best in sub-tropical climates.
There are more than 20 varietals grown throughout the region, the Caribbean, and parts of Africa.
Today, the largest commercial production of them is mainly on the Yucatán Peninsula, in Mexico.
- Dry rubs;
- Hot sauces;
- Texas chili;
- Chili pastes.
A FEW IMPROVISATIONAL RIFFS:
- Pineapple rings grilled with a sprinkle of habanero powder topped with a scoop of macadamia ice cream, and honey-habanero syrup;
- My Volcano Rub Chicken’s power spice;
- The heat behind the meat in my Senegalese P’nut Patties, a beef “pasty” with an African flare;
- The H&H – A hearts of palm salad with mixed baby greens with a bit of habanero powder, applewood smoked salt, and olive oil for dressing.
The habanero chili, is the alligator of chili peppers. A specimen of a domesticated habanero plant, dated at 8,500 years old, was found at an archaeological site in Guitarrero Cave, in the Peruvian highlands, dating back to 6500 BCE. That’s a long way, by foot, from the Amazon region of Brazil, where the pepper originated. So it’s at least a few hundred years older, probably more.
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