A few years ago, if anyone had ever suggested to me that I would be using Tabasco in a starter, main course AND pudding I would have reminded them that I am weak around chilli, and when I was younger used to find tomato ketchup too spicy.
However, times change, and although I am still a bit pathetic I have tried my best to train my palette to appreciate subtle spiciness more and more. I am not always successful – an element of spice does usually result in a red face and runny nose, and my curry of choice will always be a delicious korma – but I am definitely better than I used to be.
So when Tabasco got in touch and asked if I’d like to try my hand at creating a 3 course menu with Tabasco sauces (until then I hadn’t realised there were more than one) I said yes please, send me some Tabasco and I will give it a go.
I had recently seen the fabulous Food Unwrapped show (If you don’t watching it then you should – it’s really interesting and on Channel 4 each Monday at 8pm) which investigated the origins of Tabasco (first made in 1869) and I was impressed by how the sauce is still made according to an original recipe and aged in oak barrels for up to three years. It has no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives (in fact, the three ingredients of original Tabasco are chilli peppers, salt and vinegar), and those facts made me inclined to give it a try, even though I am pathetic when it comes to spice.
My pack of goodies from Tabasco included their range of four sauces:
- The original Tabasco pepper sauce
- Extra hot Tabasco habanero sauce
- Chipotle pepper sauce
- Milder jalapeno green pepper sauce
As soon as I saw the chipotle sauce I knew I would make some deliciously smoky burgers with a hint of heat. I had planned to do a starter using tomatoes with Tabasco (a Bloody Mary in my mind), with perhaps some creamy goats cheese to temper the spiciness, but some juicy tiger prawns caught my eye and my greedy mind immediately conjured up a plate of spicy garlicky prawns on a bed of salad. Pudding, I must confess, troubled me.
The only sweet pairing with chilli I was aware of was chocolate, but the problem is that Andrew doesn’t like chocolate, especially in dessert format, so I needed to come up with something else.
I vaguely remembered seeing a Jamie Oliver recipe back in the days of The Naked Chef where he served pineapple with mint, chilli and sugar, and it occured to me that the Tabasco could work as a combination. By the way it might not have been a Jamie Oliver recipe I half-remembered, so if you know where I might have been inspired from, let me know!
It’s a delicious combination of sweet juicy pineapple and refreshing mint. I couldn’t taste the Tabasco on the pineapple but it left a mouth-tingling hit of chilli which was a surprisingly nice feeling! I’d definitely have this again as I think it would be perfectly refreshing after a curry or a Mexican meal, or just as a delicious snack on a warm day.
Spicy prawns with garlic – serves 2
1tsp rapeseed oil, 150g pack of raw peeled tiger prawns, a few shakes of japapeno Tabasco sauce, 1tsp lazy garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper, lamb’s lettuce, cucumber, spring onions
This is super speedy to make so chop and lay out the salad on your plate first – you can choose any combination of salad and I used lamb’s lettuce, spring onions and cucumber to make a bed for my juicy prawns.
Then heat the oil in a frying pan and add the garlic. Once it has softened, pop the prawns into the pan and cook them through, which will just take a couple of minutes until they turn pink and become firm. Squeeze in some lemon juice and a good few shakes of Tabasco (I probably used no more than 2tsp of the Tabasco but don’t forget I am a weakling – it was perfect for me though), season with salt and pepper and give the prawns a final stir, then pour them onto the salad with the cooking juices. Serve immediately with crusty bread to mop up the garlicky, spicy dressing. I also added a little mayo to my plate as it wasn’t sufficiently saucy!
Smoky chipotle cheeseburgers with potato wedges – serves 4
500g minced beef (I used lean mince because that’s what I had in the freezer but you should probably go for a higher fat content for a juicier burger), 1 grated onion, 1/4-1/2 bottle of chipotle Tabasco sauce, 1 egg, salt and pepper, 100g mature cheddar cheese, 4 burger buns (I used ciabatta rolls), 1 large baking potato per person, rapeseed oil
Firstly it’s best to get your potato wedges on. I always make mine the same way: pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees whilst you cut unpeeled baking potatoes into thick wedges. Pop them into a saucepan of cold salted water, bring to the boil and simmer for no more than 5 minutes. Drain the potatoes and put them back into the saucepan. Pour on a little rapeseed oil and shake / stir around until your potatoes are just coated (aiming to use the smallest amount of oil possible), then tip onto a baking tray and season with salt and pepper (and also a sprinkling of dried thyme if you fancy it – I didn’t this time but often do). Bake in the oven for around 45 minutes, turning over halfway through.
While your wedges are baking you can make your burgers: simply mix the mince, grated onion, egg and Tabasco sauce in a bowl until everything is well combined. Using your hands split the mixture into four mounds and shape them into burgers – as thick or thin as you fancy, remembering that the burgers will shrink as they cook. Put the burgers on a baking tray which has high sides (as lots of juice comes out of the burgers and you don’t want that making its way to the bottom of your oven) and sprinkle with salt. Bake for around 20 minutes, turning over halfway through. After 20 minutes top each burger with a mound of grated cheese and return them to the oven for a couple of minutes until the cheese melts.
This will give you a well-done but juicy burger – generally I like my beef rare except when it is a burger, but you can reduce your cooking time if you want it slightly pink in the middle.
Assemble your burger as you like – I like a bit of salad in the bottom of my bun, followed by the cheeseburger, then some ketchup and mustard, then the top of the bun. Serve with your potato wedges. I also served some shop-bought coleslaw with mine.
The burger had a very distinct smoky taste but I wasn’t generous enough with the Tabasco – next time I make them my quarter of a bottle of sauce will be increased to half a bottle so that I get a spicy hit along with the smoky taste.
We were too full to manage pudding after our Tabasco feast, so ended up making the pineapple dish on another evening … hence the worse than usual quality of my pictures!
Pineapple with Tabasco – serves 2-4 depending on how greedy you are feeling
One large ripe pineapple (the juicier and sweeter the better), 2 large sprigs of mint which have been finely chopped, juice of one lime, a few shakes of original Tabasco
Peel and core the pineapple and slice it into chunks. Cover with lime juice and Tabasco and mix together so all the pineapple is well-coated, and top with the chopped mint. I allowed mine to sit for half an hour so the flavours infused but I am sure this is not strictly necessary. Do serve the pineapple at room temperature though.
What’s your favourite way to use Tabasco, or is it just too hot for you (there’s no shame in that)? In case you wonder what I did with the extra hot Tabasco … I gave it to my brother as there was NO WAY I was going to touch that bad boy! If you want to check out some more Tabasco recipes then you can search for #funwithflavour on Twitter and Instagram.