Fire Onions and The Red Habanero

I know I said that I was going to write about my hot sauce / spice rack at the end of my last blog but when have I ever really done what I said I was going to do ? So with that out of the way, I wanted to introduce you to a little friend of mine that I found out in the Swampgarden last week.

The Red Habanero.

I love to grow Habanero Peppers. My family knows it. My friends know it. My neighbor knows it because I see him looking over the fence watching for those bright blazing globs of orange to appear from under the big green leaves of my Habanero bushes. This year however, I must not have been paying attention when I grabbed my plants from the local nursery. I got my 12 Habanero plants like I always do but 3 of them turned out to be Red Habaneros. I thought something was up when I noticed that the peppers coming in on a few of the plants were a very light greenish-yellow instead of the rich shiny Kelly green I was used to seeing. I thought maybe I had planted them in a bad spot in the soil but I knew that wasn’t right because they were planted where every other bumper crop of Orange Habaneros has ever come from in my garden. So I watered, pruned & waited.

Then last week, when I got home from another successful visit to The Red Iguana in Salt Lake City, (SEVEN different Mexican moles – all to die for – see blog from August 2010) I went out to the garden and what caught my eye was a beautiful ruby red jewel of a Habanero. I was almost speechless. I had seen pictures of Red Habaneros but had never held or eaten one. I didn’t even know if there would be a heat or flavor difference. I just knew I had to do something with it.

As fate would have it, we bought a new Weber Kettle the very next day and we decided to christen it with some Alligator Burgers (www.cajungrocer.com) and regular burgers too. Any time I cook burgers, I also make sautéed onions to dump on top and that is where inspiration hit. I decided this time to make what I called Fire Onions. While the coals were heating up, I headed into the kitchen and grabbed my Red Habanero. It was time to make that bad boy dance.

So I grabbed the largest Vidalia (sweet) Onion I could find and cut it into as many rings as I could. I like the visual aspect of the rings to start even though I know that the onions will never hold their shape during the sautéing process. I also threw in a big chunk of butter, some sea salt & white pepper and set the burner to medium heat. Then I grabbed two sandwich baggies for my hands, my sharpest knife (yes the one that cut off the tip of my finger on Mother’s Day – I found where my wife had hid it from me) and sliced the Red Habanero into the thinnest rings I could cut (fingers are fine just in case you were wondering) and mixed them in with the onions.

I sautéed the Vidalia Onion & Red Habanero down until the onion had nicely caramelized and the Habanero was barely visible as only thin wisps of red. Then I added more butter and sautéed it some more. All this while, I had formed the burgers and begun cooking them so that when they were ready, so were the Fire Onions.

They were beautiful to look at. I am sure that my camera would have taken a great mouthwatering Pinterest worthy picture of them had I not been so excited to try them that I completely forgot about the camera sitting on the island behind me for just that reason. We all sat down at the table. I patiently waited for my wife & son to get their burgers first and then I attacked. I piled 2 huge spoonfuls on top of my two burgers with some guacamole & ketchup and then took a bite. The heat wasn’t present at first but before I could even swallow, it kicked in. Boy did it ever kick in. It was HOT & flavorful and just about the perfect condiment for my burgers. I even began to sweat down the back of neck and I don’t think I have done that since my Denver days at The Riviera. The more I ate, the hotter it got and I loved it. I also figured if I ate faster then I wouldn’t feel the heat as much. Sometimes I don’t think right because the heat just stayed to visit for a while longer well after the burgers were gone. In fact I did it all over again the next night with the rest of Fire Onions and they may have even better hotter the second time around.

I was out in the Swampgarden again last night and noticed two light greenish-yellow peppers with a red highlights coming in and my heart skipped a beat. I’m stopping at the grocery store on the way home tonight to pick up a few more Vidalia Onions. It’s going to be time soon to light them up as well. So come back next time when I actually do talk about the 4 shelves in the lower half of my spice rack or maybe I’ll talk about stuffing the grenade sized jalapenos I noticed in the next bed when I bent down to look at the two new Red Habaneros.

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