Have you ever visited Marx Foods website? Oh my goodness the deliciousness they have there is incredible! If you haven't visited them, you totally should!
I was given an opportunity to challenge myself thanks to Marx Foods. They sent me a package of 5 ingredients: Granulated honey, Ginger salt, Smoked Serrano chiles, De Arbol chiles and Star Anise.
My challenge was to create something using these ingredients. I felt like I was on Chopped! Here's your mystery basket...now go!
I don't think I did too badly! ☺
First, let me tell you a little about the ingredients...
Granulated honey is sugar & honey that has crystallized.
Ginger salt is ginger flavored sea salt.
Smoked Serrano chiles impart a smoky flavor with a little bit of spiciness.
De Arbol chiles are similar in taste to cayenne peppers.
Star anise is a Chinese spice with a slight licorice taste. It's also a mild diuretic so don't use too much unless you really, really like your bathroom!!
So I smelled everything. At tasted almost everything. I was a chicken and didn't taste the chiles. Oh, a little tip for you, don't rub your eye after handling the chiles unless you've washed your hands. PAIN.
After I had regained sight in my left eye and finished in the bathroom (another tip, don't nibble the corner off your star anise to see what it tastes like...remember, DIURETIC.), I decided that those ingredients would actually taste pretty good together.
I had some delicious looking loin chops set out for supper & thought about braising them in a sauce created out of my ingredients. I was outvoted by my husband. He wanted the chops fried. He likes a crust on them. Grrr.
Then I decided I could still make the sauce and he could dip his chops in them. That would be good.
Off I went to my kitchen.
I started two cups of water boiling with two of the star anise pods in it. I let it boil until the water had a nice flavor. Tip #3: Boiling water is extremely hot. You should blow on it BEFORE putting it in your mouth.
Then I added two each of the chiles, 1 cup of tomato sauce, ¼ cup of ketchup, 1 tsp of ginger salt, 1 Tbl granulated honey, 1 smashed garlic clove, 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, 2 Tbl soy sauce, some fresh ground pepper and ½ cup brown sugar.
I let it cook over medium-low heat for about an hour and then removed the star anise pods. Then I took the chiles out and pureed them in my food processor and put them back in my sauce. I tasted it and decided it could use a wee bit more sweetness so I added another teaspoon of granulated honey. Tip #4: Food that has cooked for over an hour is also very hot. You would think I would have learned from the boiling water but no, not me. I'm a slow learner.
I let it simmer & reduce while I cooked the rest of my food. I fried my chops & made a medley of new potatoes and carrots for a side dish. Just for fun I threw some of the sauce into the potato/carrot mixture. Delish!! Seriously, it took the plain dish and spiced it right up!
I called my husband into dinner with my sauce sitting in the middle of the table. He said, "Is that the stuff you made out of the stuff you got in the mail?" "Yep.", I told him. He tentatively got a spoonful out and blew on it. Yeah, he's a little smarter than me when it comes to hot food. "Mmmm, it's good.", he proclaimed and then poured it all over his chops.
He took a big bite and then said, "You should have baked these in the oven with this sauce all over them. That would have been good."
Seriously, I almost slapped him.