As he grew up, the chief and Hot sauce with red clay creator Geoff Rhyne reportedly spent summers in Georgia with his grandfather as he gathered information, stories and content for his post, Georgia Farmers Magazine.
While traveling alongside his grandfather, Rhyne met many farmers and saw a lot of farmland. Red clay, a reddish type of soil that mainly derives its color from iron oxides prevalent throughout Georgia, was something else Rhyne saw in great abundance. So when Rhyne ended up developing a hot sauce that had a familiar tint after she started experimenting with fermentation in 2013, it was pretty clear what to call the business.
“The hot sauce had this particular color that reminded me of red clay and my youth,” Rhyne told InsideHook. “It was pretty cool to be able to start the business with a nod to my grandfather. Every time I see red clay, I think of it. I think back to when I grew up in Georgia. It’s a way to carry this with me forever.
Hailed as “Tabasco of the 21st Century” by Gastronomy & Wine Magazine, Red Clay’s barrel aged hot sauces come in a variety of flavors and heat levels (original, verde and habanero) and the Charleston-based brand also has deals that include hot honey and a can of hot pepper.
The latter is an updated version of the unassuming red pepper jelly Rhyne would see on the table during the vacation of his youth.
“The problem with the red pepper jelly was that it was just kind of a seamless glop that was super sweet and made with food coloring,” he says. “How could we make this delicious and have it be something that people don’t just take out for baked brie?” We used habanero liquid to create spices. We only use turbinado sugar, the crystals, and do not use processed white sugar. We’ve got a little bit of heat, and we don’t have this really sweet thing. You can still use it on cheese, but you can also use it as a frosting on a pork chop or a piece of salmon. You can also put it between bread on a sliced turkey sandwich or something, so it’s a lot more fun.
Canned red clay, which is classified as such instead of jelly or jam due to its sugar content, is a key ingredient in a dish Rhyne has been making for about a decade, blistered shishito peppers.
“I don’t like super intense heat, I like balanced heat. Biting on a jalapeño isn’t necessarily my forte, but shishitos have a really good flavor profile, and one in 20 will have a pretty good kick, ”he says. “These are delicious peppers and an ingredient that I think lends itself very well to a bunch of different applications. Whenever you are creating recipes or creating ingredients to use in a recipe, I think versatility is extremely important. I like to eat vegetables, but vegetables can be boring. How can we dress them? The candied red pepper. You get that smoky, charred, earthy side of peppers mixed with that sweet heat. That icy balance of sweet and sticky heat matches the smoke, and it’s really delicious. The flavor profiles play together in a super simple dish.
Here is how to do it.
Red Clay Blistered Shishito Peppers
- 1 pint of shishito peppers
- 1/3 cup canned red clay chili peppers
- 1 teaspoon of fresh mint, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh cream or sour cream
- 1 tsp of fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon of buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds (or “skip seeds” as they are called in the South)
- Heat 1 to 2 teaspoons of grapeseed or avocado oil in your favorite pan. Once hot, cook the shishitos for 5-7 minutes (or until blistered and charred), then remove from the pan.
- While the shishitos are cooking, prepare the dressing. Mix 1 cup of sour cream or crème fraîche, 1 tablespoon of buttermilk and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
- Add the dressing as a base for the buttermilk dressing to the bottom of the plate and place the shishitos on top.
- Pour a large spoonful of canned red clay chilli over the shishitos and garnish with mint and toasted seeds.
This article was featured in the Internal hook bulletin. Register now.