A hot but smoky chilli sauce from new trader Wiltshire Chilli
The name of the company will tell you where the chillies come from, however unlikely that source may seem—the steamy, tropical hothouse from which these chillies emerged lies not in the Caribbean or Mexico, but deep in the south-west of England. Wiltshire Chilli is one of an ever-growing and increasingly honourable list of high quality British chilli growers, and the fruits of its labours have recently arrived at Borough Market.
The chipotle chilli sauce is a great place to start. “The chipotle is one of hundreds of varieties of chilli; it’s a close cousin of the more famous jalapeño chilli,” says Charles Danjou, from behind a stall packed with bottles promising various fruity and fiery delights. “It is not one of the chillies that’s ‘blow your head off’ hot; it has a naturally smoky flavour, which does come through in the sauce.”
Positioned to the left
A perusal of the stall shows that the milder chilli sauces are on the left as you look at it, getting hotter as you move to the right. This sits towards the left half of the display. “The chipotle sauce does have some heat, which I think makes it the perfect introduction to chilli sauces for people who may have been a bit wary of them in the past,” says Charles. “It has a very nice balance between the chilli flavour and the heat. There is a background sweetness to this sauce to go along with the smoky flavour of the chilli. There is also a slight meatiness, which combines with the smokiness and reminds me of a very good barbecue sauce.”
All the sauces are made on the farm, just a stone’s throw from where the chillies are picked. “Making this sauce is a very simple process. The idea is not to complicate things, as we want the flavour of the chilli to be the focus. Once the chillies are picked they are mixed with molasses, tomatoes—which create the sauce’s consistency—some chopped onions and red wine vinegar. The only preservative used are the spices and salt.” Despite this absence of artificial preservatives, Charles says that once opened, this sauce does not have to be kept in the fridge—a cool cupboard will do, as long as the bottle is not in direct sunlight.
Shallots and herbs
“This is very versatile, and you can use it in many different ways,” Charles continues. “If you marinate a chicken or a turkey leg or breast in this sauce for a few hours before cooking, it is beautiful. If you wanted to add something for the marinade, I would go for some chopped shallots or some of your favourite herbs, but there is no need to add any extra liquid like olive oil or water.”
As a condiment, Charles says the mild heat and smoky flavour complement a wide variety of dishes. “For example, if you have a salad made from a selection of leaves and some cherry or plum tomatoes, this chipotle chilli sauce would be lovely tossed through it, as the tomatoes in the sauce would work with those in the salad. Or you could try it with a pork loin, cooked on the barbecue. That would be a wonderful way to start exploring the world of chilli sauces.”