Tomato Fire Sauce


Makes a little over a pint (serving a crowd?)

Tomato Fire Sauce on Chicken picture
  • 1 lb canned chopped jalapeños, drained
  • 1 fresh jalapeño
  • 2 Tablespoons corn or olive oil
  • 2 lb of your best fresh pulpy summer tomatoes, skinned and roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • dash salt

Special equipment

Food processor


Simmer the jalapeños in a non-reactive pan over medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally so they don’t brown. Add chopped tomatoes and cook about an hour over low heat. Whirr in the food processor until very smooth (you’ll still see the seeds, alas), then return to heat, add sugar and simmer another half hour until thick. Memory of perfection is that the sauce had the consistency of ketchup and was chocolate in color; the latter probably because the original was stewed in iron pots. No attempt since has been anything other than a reddish brown.

Coat both sides of your meat with this barbecue sauce and grill. It will carmelize nicely without burning and give your meat a nice zing. Yeah, it will stick up your grill, but no worse than those gawdawful sugary bottled sauces.


The original recipe is long lost, and after 5 years of reconstruction, this is the closest we’ve come to resurrecting it. The breakthrough was Antonia and María Jesús Almodóvar’s recipe for a ratatouille salsa from a regional Spanish cookbook published in American newspapers in February of 2007.

Don’t use all fresh jalapeños if you want to do other things in your kitchen — like breathe (yeah, voice of experience). Don’t deseed your jalapeños, because the sauce will be surprisingly too mild: by cooking it down, even with the seeds, it has much less of a kick then you’d ever expect. Keep the seeds, and you’ll get a little scalp sweat and some mouth and lip sting, but that’s all. You’d think with that much hot pepper it’d scald every membrane it touched, but it’s not anywhere near so hot.

Freezes very well and cans very well.

To skin or not to skin. To seed or not to seed. Our heirloom tomatoes are pretty tough-skinned, so in recent iterations we’ve been skinning them. Seeding, however, is still too high church.


The newspaper articles recommend the sauce for meat, fish, morning eggs or breads, but they use sweet peppers not chilis. Spark up your morning!

We wonder what would happen if we tried to follow Malcolm Gladwell’s theory of ketchup engineering and boosted the sugar content. It’d affect the flavour, how the sauce carmelizes on the grill, and maybe the consistency. Would it improve the sauce? If you try, let us know.