Got gators in the garden? Hopefully not; we don’t here in central Texas (although eastern Texas, that’s another story). I remember hearing a story about a Cajun who turned gators into a tasty sauce. There are even recipes on the Web. I don’t remember details, only that the sauce was “just like a gator; it’s green and it bites.”
Which gave me an idea for what to do with all the green chiles in my garden. I mean, I could wait until they’re all ripe and overwhelm me, or I can take early action and pick a bunch while they’re immature. My biggest concern was the cayennes; I wound up with a dozen healthy bushes of the larger-fruit variety, and I just knew I was about to be buried. Some of those green chiles were already up to seven inches long.
What to do with them? Make Gator Sause pepper jelly.
Except there are no published recipes for Gator Sause. This is where the Chile Doctor steps in and rescues the damsel in distress, or something…
I took about a dozen nice specimens, chopped the stem end off and ground them down (seeds and all) in my trusty KitchenAid chef’s chopper with a bit of cider vinegar to keep the peppers from sticking up the sides of the bowl. I also processed a big, green bell pepper (minus its seeds). That made the chile base, which went straight into the cookpot. Then the usual pepper jelly ingredients went in next: 2 cups sucralose, 2 cups sugar, 2 cups cider vinegar, 2-3 Tbsp pectin, and some spices. I used green cardamom, cinnamon and powdered ginger, a few pinches of each; smelled about right.
Once the canner was ready and the jelly had boiled a few minutes I transferred the Gator Sause to half-pint jelly jars and canned as usual. I got six full jars, and enough left over to sample the product on some crackers. Awesome! This stuff isn’t tame at all, with some of the same slightly-grassy undertaste you find in green jalapeños. The zing is fairly complex too; not a single note on one part of the tongue, this one gets all the zest-buds involved.
I found this pepper jelly to be so delightful that I immediately made another batch. Only this time I added green jalapeños from the garden rather than use a bell pepper for volume. This one I called Cayapeño Gator Sause, and it’s a bit hotter than its earlier cousin; I think I used a few more green cayenne peppers in it. No matter, it’s a fine jelly too, with a distinctive flavor and aroma. I think these would go fine on pork or chicken, as a glaze or as part of a marinade. Maybe brush some on grilled chicken just before taking it off the fire? Hmm; now I went and made myself hungry.
Gators in the garden? No problem. Gators in the kitchen, that’s even more fun…
Enjoy the (Green Goo That Bites) Heat!
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