Besides some excellent 'cue, what I love about my buddy Bill's newish barbecue joint, Fletcher's, is the non-traditional smokehouse offerings. Items like char siu pork, stuffed portobellos, and lamb shank define Fletcher's as "Brooklyn barbecue" first and foremost. So it stands to reason that sauce pairings go beyond the ubiquitous sweet and tangy tomato sauce as well. My plate of barbecue came adorned with a trio of hot sauces for dipping and a roasted carrot and tomato habanero hot sauce instantly grabbed my attention. I had never had anything quite like it, and immediately wanted to try to make something similar at home.
The name of the sauce pretty much said it all, giving me a quick start at a recipe, knowing that I'd be roasting carrots, tomatoes, and habaneros. To that, I added in an onion and a few cloves of garlic that I thought would give a little extra depth to the finished sauce. Once softened and browned, the veggies were given a whirl in the food processor and I tinkered with seasonings and consistency until I had a sauce I thought was excellent—balsamic was the magic ingredient to tie the whole thing together.
Even on a second tasting, this was still a surprising and delicious hot sauce. It started off with a complex sweetness that's defined by the carrots, but has notes of the onion, tomatoes, and garlic. The roasted flavor is robust, and as the sweetness fades and this aspect becomes more prevalent, the habanero hits hard with a fruity heat that leaves a little burn on the tongue. As a similar flavor progression to a barbecue sauce, it makes sense that it went so well with smoked meats, but it's bound to do so much more—I caught my wife using it as a dip for fries.
About the author: Joshua Bousel brings you new, tasty condiment each Wednesday and a recipe for weekend grilling every Friday. He also writes about grilling and barbecue on his blog The Meatwave whenever he can be pulled away from his grill.