Turning a Kitchen Mistake Into a Success: Or, My Story of Accidental Hot Sauce

Kitchen Diary: Anne in South Carolina

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The other day, I came home from one of my favorite local groceries, the Super Acapulco, with hot peppers, queso fresco, a few avocados, some beautiful green onions, and a bag of healthy tomatillos. I imagined a delicious taco salad dinner. Also on my mind was salsa verde, which I have made many times before. So it would be easy. But I got distracted, and things went wrong. Lucky for me, all was not lost.

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It's hard to believe anyone could mess up this recipe, it's so simple.

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But I was too cool to measure the water, and I may have added too much. Rather than setting the timer for a 10 to 15 minute simmer, I figured I could wing it and proceeded to putter around the house. Maybe I did laundry. Perhaps I took a shower. Maybe I watched an episode of Mistresses. I might have even done some work. (This is the life of a freelancer who works at home.) Before I knew it, the salsa had been on the stove far too long, maybe an hour or more. Those tomatillos were really, really soft.

"Perhaps," I thought to myself (or possibly said out loud, since I get lonely sometimes), "It will be fine." After finally removing the pot from the heat, I got out my stick blender and tentatively blended. My salsa verde was liquified, almost immediately. So I tasted it.

Because they had cooked for so long, the ingredients had a smoky flavor. I added a little vinegar, and a few shakes of cayenne pepper, and blended some more. Look at that. Smoked tomatillo hot sauce! Or something like that. And a lot of it.

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We use a lot of hot sauce, and this is far less expensive than buying it by the bottle. Also, there's endless room for experimentation. I'm pretty excited about my new hobby!

Have you ever learned something new from a mistake in the kitchen? And do you make your own hot sauce? I'd love your recipe.

(Image credits: Anne Wolfe Postic)