I have this running joke that I’m a hot sauce addict.
Thank God for science, because we can prove that eating the capsaicin in chili peppers results in the release of endorphins, giving hot sauce an addictive quality. So I guess it isn’t so much a joke as an actual fact.
But I’m living in the right time and place. Because nowadays, there’s more hot sauces to choose from than we know what to do with. I love discovering new brands in the grocery store, because each one has their own flavor profile and affinity to certain foods that I can tease out over time.
More often than not, I’ve found that hot sauces tend to fall into one of these buckets.
- Cayenne Pepper-Based Hot Sauces
- Green Hot Sauces (Jalapeno, Serrano, Poblano)
- Very Hot Hot Sauces (Ghost Pepper, Scotch Bonnet, Habanero)
- Smoky Hot Sauces (Chipotle)
- Buffalo Wing Hot Sauces
- Authentic Asian Hot Sauces
- Authentic Mexican Hot Sauces
At any given time, you will find somewhere between fifteen and twenty hot sauce bottles on the door of my fridge. There is a systematic approach to this madness. Some of the hot sauces are sparingly reserved for select foods – while others can go on just about anything.
Here’s a look into the best food & hot sauce combinations I’ve pinpointed in over a quarter lifetime of trial and error. Most are pretty obvious, but some are unexpectedly perfect when you take that bite. And because some of the hot sauces I’d like to call out by name are hard to come by – i.e. bought at an airport in Mexico, I’m just including the easy-to-find varieties you can buy almost anywhere.
- Tabasco (Original) – Runny Eggs, Burritos, Raw Seafood, Potato Salad, Clam Chowder
- Tabasco (Chipotle) – Steak, Chicken, Mixed Kebabs, Ribs, Rice Bowls, Roasted Nuts
- Tabasco (Jalapeno) – Beans, Lentils, Bruschetta, Guacamole
- Tabasco (Scorpion) – Ceviche, Honey-Mustard Sauce, Hearty Seafood, Tamales, Polenta, Onion Dip, Scotch Eggs
- Crystal – Macaroni & Cheese, Fried Chicken, Hashbrowns, Sausages, Biscuits, Pot Pies, Gratins, Grits
- Texas Pete’s (Original) – Mashed Potatoes, Pot Roast, Jambalaya
- Cholula (Original) – Scrambled Eggs, French Fries, Grilled & Roasted Vegetables, BLTs, Tomato Soup
- Cholula (Green Pepper) – Lamb, Hot Dogs, Cheeseburgers, Corn Salad, Avocados
- Cholula (Chili Garlic) – Fried Rice, Chili, Roasted Chicken, In Salad Dressings, Hummus, Popcorn, Chicken Tenders
- Sriracha – Salads, Soups, Pizza, Sushi, Hard Boiled Eggs, Slaws, Mixed into Ranch Dressing, Mixed into Ketchup
- Tapatio – Mixed into Pico de Gallo, Enchiladas, Tacos
- Valentina – Cocktails, Mixed into Queso, Refried Beans, Breakfast Burritos
- Frank’s RedHot (Wings Sauce) – Buffalo Chicken Dip, Cobb Salad, Chicken-Fried Steak, Pasta Salad
What are some of your must-have combinations? Any hot sauces you swear by? If it’s as good as you say it is, I guess you’re giving me the go ahead to buy just one more bottle. Right?
I N G R E D I E N T S
Makes approximately 40 nuggets.
- 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
- 2 cups habanero hot sauce of your choosing
- 1 habanero, minced
- 2 sticks butter, melted
- 3 cups buttermilk
- 3 cups flour
- 6 tablespoons garlic powder
- 4 tablespoons cayenne pepper
- 4 tablespoons salt
- 2 tablespoons pepper
- 24 oz. vegetable or canola oil
F o r t h e L e m o n – L i m e G o r g o n z o l a D i p p i n g S a u c e
- 1 / 2 cup sour cream
- 1 lemon, juiced & zested
- 1 lime, juiced & zested
- 4 oz. Gorgonzola, crumbled
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of pepper
- Pinch of sugar
D I R E C T I O N S
- Put the chicken cubes in the buttermilk and allow to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- Combine the dredge ingredients – the flour, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a large shallow bowl. Set aside.
- Melt the butter, and combine it with the hot sauce and minced habanero. Set aside.
- Combine the dipping sauce ingredients in a bowl, and allow to sit in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the dish.
- To dredge the nuggets, remove the chicken from the buttermilk, roll in the flour, put back in the buttermilk and coat, and then roll in the flour a second time. Repeat for all chicken cubes, placing them in one layer on a large clean plate.
- In the meantime, heat the oil on medium heat in a large skillet. Make sure there is about an inch of oil in the skillet, adding more if needed. Heat until you can feel the heat rising off the oil. To test if the oil is ready, put a pinch of flour into the hot oil and see if it begins to bubble and sizzle. If it’s too hot or too cool, adjust the heat.
- Once the oil is ready, place the nuggets in the oil with tongs, being sure not to crowd the meat. When you see the chicken is golden brown on the underside, flip the chicken to the other side to finish frying. Remove the cooked chicken and place on a paper towel-lined plate.
- Once all the chicken nuggets are cooked, toss them in a large bowl with the hot sauce mixture until all nuggets are completely coated with the sauce.
- Serve immediately alongside the dipping sauce.