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Blazin’ Barbecue: Ways To Spice Up Your Meal

Barbecue is the convergence of many great and wonderful flavors. Yet, there are many different takes on taste. Hot and Spicy Barbecue is no different. From South Carolina to Korean style Barbecue, Pitmaster’s seem to find the most interesting ways to light your taste buds on fire. If you’re wondering how to make your hot dish even hotter, I’ve got some suggestions you don’t want to miss.

Peppers are the name of the game here. There are different ways you can use them in your cooking process. Rubs will generally use dried versions of the pepper, either ground up or the seeds. Sauces can employ the same ingredients, but they can also use whole pieces of the peppers on this list. Whatever your preferred style of Que, there’s something for you on this list, so let’s get started.

Where’s the heat?

It’s important to know the anatomy of your pepper in order to understand how to use its attributes. Specifically, what makes it hot and where the greatest concentration of hotness lies. Capsaicin is the chemical the makes peppers hot, so our search begins with finding the highest concentration of said chemical.

This happens to be the membrane surrounding the seeds. Most people think the seeds are the hottest part of a pepper, but research says this is incorrect. Seeds do contain capsaicin themselves, but they seem hot because they receive some capsaicin transference from their surroundings.

So why does this matter? Well, if you want the most heat in your food, use this inner membrane either fresh or dried to get the most kick. If you are interested in flavor over heat, use less or none of the membrane and the seeds. The outer skin and the flesh will generally deliver the highest concentration of pure flavor as the capsaicin levels are the lowest. In order to separate these parts of the pepper, cut it in half and either slice or scrape the seeds and the adjacent membrane from the lining of the inside of the pepper. I suggest not cutting too deep into the flesh, as you ideally want it for it’s unique savor.

Pepper vs. Pepper

Pepper selection will still be important. Even if you carefully remove the membrane and seeds, peppers have their respective heat hierarchy. It’s important to check the Scoville rating chart in order to select your preferred pepper. First decide whether or not you want a hot pepper, a mild pepper, or something between. Then you can make the best choice for you. If you’re interested, here are a couple of ideas for your culinary discretion.

For the Flavor: Chipotle Peppers

Chipotle peppers sound very exotic, but they’re simply jalapeno peppers that have “ripened” at the end of the growing season. These peppers have been allowed to stay on the vine until they’ve turned a beautiful red hue. The most famous versions from Chihuahua, Mexico (called Chipotle Morita), turn nearly purple. Then, they’re dried via a smoking process.

These versions of the jalapeno will remain just about as hot as their green counterparts which means they’re moderate in heat. Chipotle peppers have been in vogue for some time now and are arguably the most popular pepper to use in Barbecue Sauces – as evidenced by the offerings in the sauce isle at your local grocery store.

You can use Roasted Peppers (either Grilled on your BBQ Grill, Smoked or Roasted on Live Fire) for BBQ Sauce, Salsa’s or save and dehydrate (dry them) for later use in your own Rub. Just crush and grind them to dust.

But as Pitmasters know, homemade is the best way. Use chipotle peppers in ground or granulated form for rubs. In sauces, you can do the same, but sauces open up the possibility of easily using fresh peppers. Always remember that ground versions are unspecified parts of the pepper, so you may be getting membrane and you may not. Therefore, the heat levels will vary.

Call the Fire Department: Ghost Peppers

Sometimes a cook just has to burn it all down. Well, at least when it comes to taste buds. I break peppers down into two categories: heated flavor and flavored heat. While chipotle peppers fall under the “heated flavor” category, ghost peppers fall under the “flavored heat” category.

A word of caution: no matter your chosen usage of this pepper, please begin by using it sparingly as it can be unpleasant if over used.

With that said, ghost peppers can also provide a very unique flavor and experience. I suggest using fresh versions as you can more readily control the heat vs. flavor ratio yourself. You can even dry or smoke them yourself once you’ve removed the membrane and seeds, thus retaining more flavor than heat. Just remember, it will still be hot!

Final thoughts

I hope this helped everyone. As always, my goal is to inform, illuminate and inspire. Try some of these tips out at your next Barbecue and let us know how it went on our social media page. Best of luck and if this guide helped you, please share it with your friends.

Read More about Working with Peppers: Peppers: The Fire in your Life

Have a great day!

By: Joshua Rooks

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