Monday, February 4, 2013

Hot Licks Ghost Pepper Sauce Two Ways - By Bryanne Salazar

I am going to confess something to you. I had Hot Licks® Ghost Pepper Sauce sitting in my fridge for two months, unopened, because I was scared to try it. I've seen the Cooking Channel shows where innocent tasters nearly imploded from the scorching heat of one tiny drop of ghost chile extract. Sure, I'm brave, but I didn't have a death wish.

Well, surprise surprise, I feared for nothing. I finally sucked up enough courage to peel back the plastic and give the Ghost Pepper Sauce a try. It was delicious, smoky, deeply spicy but not painfully so. One taste and I knew exactly how I wanted to let those earthy flavors of the pepper shine. Here is how I made peace with the Ghost Pepper Sauce, I hope you enjoy!

Ghost-Pepper Buttermilk Fried Chicken Strips and Creamy Gorgonzola-Ghost Pepper Dip

For the marinade:
2 cups of nonfat buttermilk
2 teaspoons (or more) of Hot Licks® Ghost Pepper Sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced into 1-inch strips

For the breading:
1 & 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
2 teaspoons ground cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper

Canola oil for frying (enough to fill a large stock pot at least 1/2 full)

For the dip:
1 cup all-natural sour cream
1/2 cup nonfat buttermilk
1/4 cup of Best Foods mayonaise
1 cup of Gorgonzola or blue cheese, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of Hot Licks® Ghost Pepper Sauce


About four hours before I planned on frying the chicken, I placed the slices in a large container with the marinade mixture of buttermilk, Ghost Pepper Sauce, salt and pepper, and stirred it well till it was all combined. By marinating the chicken in the sauce, it will allow it to stay extra moist while also absorbing some of those wonderful, smoky flavors.

While it marinated, I made my delicious Gorgonzola dip. Combine all of the ingredients listed and stir to combine. If you want your cheese crumbles finer, you can pulse the mixture in a food processor a few times till smooth. Allow it to sit in the fridge for at least an house before serving.

About thirty-minutes before you want to cook your chicken, get your oil in the pot and let it preheat to 350 degrees.

Once that's done, you need to get your breading station set up. First, strain the chicken out of the buttermilk mixture, but reserve  the buttermilk sauce in a bowl as you will use it for binding while breading the chicken.

Combine the flour and cornstarch with all of the seasonings listed. If you don't have cornstarch, don't worry - just use more flour instead. I like cornstarch for an extra crispiness it gives the chicken. (A little trick from my take-out Chinese food days!)

Set your strained, marinated chicken near the flour and reserved buttermilk marinade. Place the chicken in the flour mixture, then put them back into the buttermilk and once more into the flour mix until all of the chicken strips have been double-breaded.

Don't worry if some of the strips get a little gluey from the flour and buttermilk reacting together. They will still fry up nice and crispy. Make sure your oil is at the right temperature before you start frying. If it's too low, the breading on the chicken will soak up a lot of excess oil and make the chicken strips soggy. If it's too high, the breading will cook before the chicken, and it can burn.

Fry the chicken in two-three batches until the strips are flaky and golden brown. I place my chicken on a wire rack over a pan with paper towels underneath. This helps the chicken stay crispy while it cools.

Don't they look delicious? Taste a small strip for seasoning. Now's your chance to add a little extra salt or pepper to the outer crust if it needs it.

Once your chicken is fried, serve it with your Gorgonzola-Ghost Pepper dip and a few fresh veggies like sliced cucumber, celery sticks, carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes and green onions. The veggies taste great with the spicy, creamy dip and so does the chicken!

If you want even more of a spicy kick, drizzle a few drops of the Ghost Pepper Sauce over the fried chicken.

So there you have it folks, Hot Licks® Ghost Pepper Sauce, two ways. Don't be afraid of the name, but do be warned: once you serve this combo to friends, you will find yourself in the kitchen doing a lot more cooking than usual.

You can find this sauce and others at the Hot Licks® website here.

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