May 21, 2011

Hot Sauce! (Hot Orange Pork Skillet Dinner)

Oh, hot sauce. At any given time, my fridge holds anywhere from six to thirty hot sauces. It's really my go-to condiment (closely followed by mustard), and it can be used in oh-so-many different applications, from deep in the cooking process to the finishing flare, to the rescue of deeply questionable take-out.

The four lovely hot sauces that you see above were sent to me recently by the good folks at Cholula, who either stumbled upon my blog post in '06 for our Hot Sauce Tasting Party, which featured Original Cholula as the third sauce in the line-up, or they saw my back-in-the-day essay extolling the virtues of hot sauce. Either way, a quick glance at this blog undoubtedly suggests that I'd be interested in trying the new flavours, and rightly so! I was pleased to accept the offer, since I already like and buy the original Cholula hot sauce.

One of the reasons that I stock Cholula Original in my fridge is that it is a very versatile sauce, adding a little zip (it's not too hot) and has a pleasantly peppery, yet neutrally "Mexican" taste, without significantly changing the flavour profile of whatever you are adding it to. It's very good for a quick quesadilla, or to jazz up some chicken wings (or legs...), or even just on top of cheese-and-crackers, and it sometimes adds just the right note to a simmering pot of chili that wants a little something. It's perfect for making buffalo-wing pizza. But, I already knew all that. That's why I buy it. The other flavours were launched throughout North America last year.

First up: Cholula Chili Lime - a no-brainer for someone like me, who loves citrus almost as much as hot sauce.

Straight up, Cholula Chili Lime tastes just as you would expect it to. The same basic flavour profile as Cholula original (the same pepper blend, in fact, of pequin and arbol chiles, plus guajillo and paprika), punched up with lime flavour which leaves more citrus-y aftertaste. The lime flavour comes from "natural flavor", I assume, as there is no mention of lime in the ingredients. The bad news (and there is some) - the somewhat odd choice to put sugar and dried tomato into the sauce, in combination with the unspecified natural flavor/lime, gives a faintly metallic tone and aftertaste to the sauce. A lot of folks I know aren't affected by that (whatever it is that creates that particular sensitivity), but if you are someone who really dislikes lime-flavoured tortilla chips, this may not be the sauce for you. For me, it just means that I am more likely to use it as an ingredient, where that faint aftertaste can be burned away by other flavours, than as a finishing sauce for something delicate, such as scrambled eggs.

I did crack it open in time to use with a recipe that I am currently developing - Hot Orange Pork Skillet Dinner. The "Hot" in the name is from the two habanero peppers in the recipe, and they nicely blast away any aftertaste. The Cholula Chili Lime was used in the recipe itself, and as a finishing garnish.

Hot Orange Pork Skillet Dinner

Makes 4 servings
Total Prep and Cooking Time: 45 minutes

1 lb pork sirloin steak
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1½ cups diced red onion
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 habaƱero peppers, 1 minced, 1 whole
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon hot sauce of your choice (I used Cholula Chili Lime)
1 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons lime juice
200 grams parboiled rice
2-3 cups diced zucchini*
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1 cup hot chicken broth
1 teaspoon cornstarch
½ cup cold water

Cut the pork steaks into 4 equal pieces, and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper on each side. In a 12" skillet, quickly sear the pork, and remove to a separate plate as soon as it is golden. Add the oil to the emptied skillet, and once the oil is hot, add the onions, garlic, cumin, and habaƱeros, cooking and stirring until the onions are softened and a bit translucent. Add a splash of water (or tequila!) if needed to prevent burning.

Add the zucchini and the bell pepper and stir again. Add the rice to the skillet, and add the hot sauce, orange juice and lime juice. Stir well so the rice grains get thoroughly coated and loosen any stuck-on bits. Add the hot water and chicken base and stir again. Stir the cornstarch into the cup of cold water, until smooth. Add to the skillet and stir carefully (your skillet will be quite full) until thoroughly incorporated and bring to a simmer.

Top with the pork in a single layer over top of the rice, cover tightly, turn the heat to the lowest setting and cook for 25 minutes. Garnish with extra hot sauce, and maybe some cilantro, if you like.

Serve with a sliced avocado, or maybe a jicama salad.

Estimated Nutritional breakdown (via online calculator) per serving: Calories: 445, Fat 10.76g; Saturated Fat 2.98g; Cholesterol 73mg; Sodium 312.57mg; Total Carbohydrate 59.77g; Dietary Fiber 5.14g; Sugars 6.03g; Protein 26.66g; Est. Percent of Calories from: Fat 21%, Carbs 54%, Protein 24% Please note: your mileage may vary.

*If you are wondering what the heck kind of zucchini is in the photo, I actually used a chayote squash, instead. Big mistake. The pieces were too large, the texture too much like apple, and the flavour contribution almost non-existent. Zucchini, my first thought, should have been the way to go. Maybe corn. I'll keep you posted.

Next up: Cholula Chili Garlic. Looking forward to it!

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1 comment:

Virginia O said...

Anyone who loves hot sauce is a quality human being. It has been my go-to condiment for as long as I can remember as well, although I'm not the "30 hot sauce" aficionado that you are. Love new hot sauce recommendations - I'm always excited to try something new to spice up my recipes! I'll also have to share your hot sauce tip with my recipe club