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recipe Cloning Poblano's "Mexican Hot Sauce"

Hi everyone,
 
I've been a hot sauce fiend for a bit and my favorite, all time, are the Red Jalapeno and/or Mexican Hot Sauce produced by Poblano Hot Sauce in Tucson. I go through about 30 bottles a year; it's so good I ship it in from Tucson - it's not sold outside of AZ as far as I'm aware. They stopped producing for a few weeks last year and I thought I was out of luck forever. Fortunately they're in production again, but it was a scare! 
 
So, I am here for one reason: to recreate this hot sauce.
 
The recipe is a closely guarded secret, so there's no asking for tips or tricks from the manufacturers. I've been compiling notes for a few months now and I'm just going to data dump it here and log my progress as I go. To say I've been taking notes may be an understatement. I've scoured the internet for articles and newspaper clippings about Poblano Hot Sauce. I've search the pictures in those articles carefully to see what equipment they may have. I've read them thoroughly for ANY clue about the process or recipe.
 
The flavor is not sweet at all, just a little bit vinegary with a very clear contribution by spices. Texture is smooth with a little bit of grit from the spices. No seeds are visible.
 
If you're familiar with this hot sauce and have some thoughts - please let me know.
 
What I think I know:
 
The sauce is not cooked
  • Oil separates when left to sit for a few days; based on previous research, I suspect this may mean it is uncooked.
  • Reading local news articles about the makers states that the only piece of equipment they have is a "chile grinder"; there is no mention of a stove and none shown in any photograph of the kitchen.
Peppers and spices pickle for days at room temperature. I do not believe this is fermented.
  • ..."barrels holding jalapenos, spices, and mustard that marinate together of the course of several days".
The big unknowns are the composition of "chili peppers" and "spices"
  • surprise to no one
  • the original recipe called for chiltepin peppers, but people complained it was too hot so they no longer use chiltepins
I believe spices include...
  • mustard seed
  • turmeric
  • paprika
  • garlic powder
  • cumin (I THINK I can taste this)
 
Listed Ingredients:
 

  • Mexican Hot Sauce (In order)

    Habanero
  • Chili peppers
  • spices
  • distilled vinegar
  • mustard seed (>= 28 g per bottle)
  • salt (11 g sodium per bottle based on nutritional information, should be 28 g Salt per bottle)
  • turmeric (<= 28 g per bottle)
  • paprika
  • garlic powder


 
Articles about Poblano. This is it:

 
 

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I found this clone recipe last week and made it.
http://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/habanero-and-poblano-hot-sauce-481249
 
It tastes extremely strongly of fennel and black pepper; no way this is right. The suggestion of including a poblano is interesting, but I think false. The list of spices may be close, but the proportions are clearly wrong. Reviewing the ingredient list - recall that ingredients are in the order of descending weight.
 
With this in mind, damn, they must use a shit ton of habaneros.
 
Questions for you guys:
 
  • Are habaneros used fresh or dried? I guess it must be fresh, or else this sauce is 30% dry habaneros which is insane.
  • Because habaneros and chiles are above vinegar, that suggests that the recipe is at least 2 parts chile to 1 part vinegar.
 
 
Made another attempt at a clone tonight, this time using roasted green chiles out of my freezer. Clearly used too much garlic, but recipe is closer. They almost certainly don't use new mexican green chile, but it's what I had handy.
 
First Draft Recipe:
3 oz roasted green chile
0.7 oz habanero, 4 peppers
3 oz white vinegar (a little more than 1/3 cup)
3 lg cloves garlic
2 tsp red chile powder
2 tsp salt
1 3/4 tsp whole mustard seed
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp cumin
 
Method:
Blend it all together with an immersion blender. Let it sit for the flavors to meld.
 
Immediate result:
Much better; heat all comes at the end, whereas in the original it's hot start to finish. This is much too garlicky though; I should stick to garlic powder like the recipe states. The green chiles I used are spicy when put on a burger, but not so much in a sauce. Next time, less green chile, add a jalepeno or two, and increase the dried peppers. I'm getting just a little bit of sweetness from the green chiles that I don't want. Note that I'm using a lot less habanero than vinegar, by weight; this doesn't jive with the order of ingredients.
 
This will go into the fridge for the flavors to develop a bit, but this recipe is absolutely edible and I'd be happy to serve it, just not quite what I want.
 
Question:
Can I let a sauce like this mature on the counter - recall that the real thing is maid in barrels kept at room temperature for days - or is it necessary to use the fridge?
 
 
 

salsalady

Business Member
m012741k0m847 said:
Questions for you guys:
 
  • Are habaneros used fresh or dried? I guess it must be fresh, or else this sauce is 30% dry habaneros which is insane.
  • Because habaneros and chiles are above vinegar, that suggests that the recipe is at least 2 parts chile to 1 part vinegar.
Not Necesarily 2:1.  using the above list, it could be-
50% habanero
15% chile
15% spices
15% vinegar
5% other
 
-or-
25% habanero
20%chile
19% spices
19% vinegar
17% other
 
 
Lots of ways to interpret the list.  Sounds like a fun project.  Good Luck! 
SL
 
edit to get that other 2% in recipe #2.  :lol:
 
 
 
 
 
Thanks Salsalady - of course you're right, I was unclear. I was considering habanero's chile in this case, which is confusing because I was also taking about green chile chile, as well as the chile in the ingredients list. But, point taken!
 
Have you considered visiting the factory? They're not going to hand you a recipe but you might be able to get a tour that could teach you a lot, and i bet you'd have a blast.
 
 
Holy smokes 7 hour drive? Albuquerque and Tucson look so close on the map!
 
After 10 days of resting in the fridge, the roasted green chile - habanero - garlic sauce is excellent. The garlic flavor has settled down a bit; it's still very present, but not so aggressive. Straight off a spoon, it has a delayed habanero spice and a pleasant garlic flavor. On food (this evening, a ham and veggie quesadilla), spice is muted but the garlic and sweetness from the chiles comes through. Overall very pleasant and I'll absolutely make this recipe again when chile roasting season hits. I'm not trying to toot my own horn here; I threw out my first two hot sauces and I recognize I have no idea what I'm doing, but I'm extremely happy with this sauce.
 
I get the feeling I'm at least on the right track for creating a Poblano clone; the green chile and garlic flavor is not typical of Poblano sauce, but the habanero - spice base seems close.
 
Tonight's recipe, featuring partially desiccated peppers I've left on my counter too long:
 
Base:
100 ml (3 oz) white vinegar
 
Peppers:
0.8 oz partially desiccated habanero peppers
0.8 oz partially desiccated red fresno peppers
0.4 oz red chile powder
0.4 oz dried chile pequin pods, stemmed & seeded.
 
Spices:
2 tsp salt
1 3/4 tsp whole mustard seed
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp cumiin
1/4 tsp garlic powder
 
Method:
Blend together with an immersion blender; let it sit for the flavors to meld.
 
Immediate result:
It was immediately apparent that the initial quantity of white vinegar (100 ml) was inadequate; I basically had a paste. Added 30 mls more to smooth it out a bit just so i could blend it effectively. The spice distribution (is there a term for this?) is better - this sauce is spicy up front, spicy on the backend, and then has a pleasant lingering heat. Initial flavor has a bit of a "bell pepper" taste I believe comes from the fresnos; After googling it, I think I may have meant to get serranos. I think the powder chile really consumed the vinegar; in the future, maybe cut back on the powder and add a few chile de arbol pods.
 
Questions:
Where can you buy red jalapenos? Can I just hang them in my house until they turn red, or do they need to turn on the vine?
 

The Hot Pepper

Founder
Admin
5658fd1b61492.image.jpg

 
2009
http://tucson.com/business/longtime-tucson-company-s-salsa-is-one-hot-commodity/article_f5fbbf2c-2ab5-5dff-8413-08e7886c4f22.html
 
Oscar R. Segura grinds his green jalapeños at night.
 
"The fumes are so strong I don't want to bother my customers," said the owner of the local company Poblano Hot Sauce Inc., which turns 85 Sept. 10.
 
It is the second generation of the Segura family that continues the salsa-making tradition started in 1924 by Oscar's dad, Nicolas Segura.
 
...
 

Oscar, 74, said the recipes have remained a secret, even within the family. Only Oscar and his wife know them, not even their two sons who work with them.
 
"They're not ready to have the recipes yet," said Oscar's wife, Gloria, 73, as she worked next to one of their sons, 44-year-old Oscar.
 
It was a secret that Nicolas nearly took to his grave in 1985.
 
Even though he was in the hospital with a kidney infection, Nicolas left the doctor's care to show Oscar how to make the last recipe he didn't know.
 
"Keep it to yourself and don't let nobody else see what you do,' he remembers his dad told him.
 
After sharing the secret, Nicolas refused to return to the hospital and died at home three days later.
 
 
Cut to: 2015
 

http://tucson.com/poblano-hot-sauce-business/image_8609fe06-4f1a-533d-9ed7-547b985735ee.html
 
http://tucson.com/news/local/neto-s-tucson-a-salsa-patriarch-passes-on-his-secret/article_d72a2a30-a6d9-541f-af93-05bad33a27f1.html
 
Every month he would grind through 300 pounds of chiles and turn them into 69,120 bottles of picante a year. He would do it all by hand...
 
=====
 
Oscar passed away at 81. RIP good sir!
 
So you can glean a bit here.
 
Dried chilies, hand ground. This is common to Mexican style sauces. They also mention grinding green jalapenos. 
 
The name is Poblano, and an ancho is a dried poblano. I would bet 100 bux there is ancho. Anchos are earthy, a tad smoky, with a little sweet rainy taste.
 
Plus this:
 
"Every month he would grind through 300 pounds of chiles and turn them into 69,120 bottles of picante a year."
 
Do the math.
 
 
 
The Hot Pepper - thank you for the suggestions and insight!
 


 
Oscar passed away at 81. RIP good sir!
 
RIP! If you read some of those articles, you may have gotten a sense for how they pass the recipes down. Two Segura men have refused to pass the recipes on until they were within a week of death. That's just wild. Honestly it makes me a little hesitant to even publish my quest for a clone recipe on the forum - I would hate to taint such an incredible family tradition. But, honestly, I do not believe I'll recreate poblano; I just want to find something similar that I can make at home so I don't think there's any real risk. Doubt I'll ever reproduce that magic.
 
So you can glean a bit here.
 
Agreed! I have links in my initial post to all of the news articles I've found over the years - i think you found 2 of the 4. There's actually an article from a local newspaper in 1974 that I have not yet been able to obtain; it's behind a paywall, but I might dig it up one day.
 
Dried chilies, hand ground. This is common to Mexican style sauces. They also mention grinding green jalapenos. 
 
This is a great point; using powdered red chile in my last batch really sucked up all the fluids and made my sauce into a paste. A coarser grind wouldn't quite do that. Poblano is just a bit "gritty", that makes sense. They do a red jalapeno and green jalapeno sauce; both are great, but the green jalapeno is quite different and not my target. But still, if they're grinding green jalapenos for the green sauce, maybe they're grinding un-dried red jalapenos for the red sauce.
 
The name is Poblano, and an ancho is a dried poblano. I would bet 100 bux there is ancho. Anchos are earthy, a tad smoky, with a little sweet rainy taste.
 
Earthiness and a very light smokiness are two things I'm acutely aware that have been missing from my sauce; excellent idea. I was kicking around using smoked paprika but I had a feeling that wasn't the kind of smokiness I was missing.
 
Plus this:
 
"Every month he would grind through 300 pounds of chiles and turn them into 69,120 bottles of picante a year."
 
Do the math.
 
It's like you found the notes on my hard drive! I did do that calculation and got 2 g per bottle - no way. I just realized that the weight of chile is monthly and the number of bottles is annual, so 2g x 12 = 24 g per bottle; that's much more reasonable, although it translates to about 0.85 oz. Based on the ingredients list, there should be equal or more ground chile, by weight, than vinegar. This is something I keep getting hung up on when formulating recipes; my test recipes have about as much pepper (between all kinds) as vinegar, but it doesn't jive with the recipe. Maybe a coarser grind will help my chile/vinegar ratio woes. Although, maybe if I used fresher habaneros I'd get a little more liquid from them. Maybe that 24 g per bottle is just anchos, or just a particular chile? Who knows. I might try that next time.
 
 
 
 

 
 
ShowMeDaSauce said:
Ive never found ripe jalapenos at the markets and that includes our "little Mexico" strip. Never found ripe serrano either. Ripe Fresno though are common.
 
I've never seen then in New Mexico anywhere, either. Maybe I'll just to stitch together a little jalapeno ristra.
 

The Hot Pepper

Founder
Admin
m012741k0m847 said:
But still, if they're grinding green jalapenos for the green sauce, maybe they're grinding un-dried red jalapenos for the red sauce.
 
How do grind an undried pepper? :lol: I didn't get that.
 
But yeah a smooth sauce can be made from dried peppers. A chiptole is smoke-dried and made into sauce. So if you've had smooth chipotle sauce there you go. If not dried it's a red jalapeno.
 
Sounds like the sauces are all from dried peppers. Maybe not the habanero, if any, would be my guess. It's not traditionally ground like others for sauce and the drying doesn't add as much profile. It may be for the heat.
 
The Hot Pepper said:
 
How do grind an undried pepper? :lol: I didn't get that.
 
But yeah a smooth sauce can be made from dried peppers. A chiptole is smoke-dried and made into sauce. So if you've had smooth chipotle sauce there you go. If not dried it's a red jalapeno.
 
Sounds like the sauces are all from dried peppers. Maybe not the habanero, if any, would be my guess. It's not traditionally ground like others for sauce and the drying doesn't add as much profile. It may be for the heat.
 
I agree about the grinding undried pepper - that was going to be a follow up question from me. After looking at that article again, i realized Oscar says he grinds the green jalapenos at night so as not to bother the customers. Maybe I need to start grinding at night; that must be the problem.
 
I think you're right about the habanero and I wonder if the red jalapenos are also fresh; using fresh peppers would make it much easier to use a greater mass of pepper than vinegar, and it might also add a little bit of liquid to the sauce as well. That would put the anchos/pequin/de arbol peppers in the "spices" fraction of the ingredients and explain why ground, dried jalapenos and habanero are not also included in there. There's a picture from one of the articles showing them adding a chunky paste to their barrels; it looks similar, in texture, to the fresh habanero-fresno sauce I made last night. Again, I'm thinking any pepper listed by name may be used fresh. Working hypothesis.
 

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The Hot Pepper

Founder
Admin
If they are grinding green jalapenos for the green sauce my guess is they are grinding red for the red sauce. The ancho is always dried, the habanero I would believe is fresh, and they may add fresh green and red jalapenos to the recipes as well respectively.
 
I wouldn't go crazy on the spices unless you can actually detect something. A lot of the flavor is from the dried peppers, the ancho will add a lot, maybe what you miss, give it a shot. 
 
The Hot Pepper said:
If they are grinding green jalapenos for the green sauce my guess is they are grinding red for the red sauce. The ancho is always dried, the habanero I would believe is fresh, and they may add fresh green and red jalapenos to the recipes as well respectively.
 
I wouldn't go crazy on the spices unless you can actually detect something. A lot of the flavor is from the dried peppers, the ancho will add a lot, maybe what you miss, give it a shot. 
 
Cool, thanks for all the suggestions. I think you're right on all counts; I'll consider this for my next draft after I get back from vacation.
 

salsalady

Business Member
The Hot Pepper said:
 
How do grind an undried pepper? :lol: I didn't get that.
 
Simple....food processor, buffalo chopper, or similar piece of equipment.  I use ground fresh chiles, onion, garlic, etc....all the time.  :cool:
 
SL
 

salsalady

Business Member
coffee beans in a coffee grinder with a spinning blade= ground coffee
fresh chiles in a FP with a spinning blade= ground peppers
:lol:  semantics~~  ;)
 
A Buffalo chopper is an old school machine to make ground meats, or anything else.  I could see the sauce people using a buffalo chopper on fresh chiles for their green sauce.  We had one at Northern State (formerly a huge mental hospital in Sedro-Woolley built back in the 1920's).  The owner of the commercial kitchen I first used had a buffalo chopper.  I used it to make the salsa, she used it to chop basil and garlic for her dressing.  Buffalo choppers have been around forever.  And if using it to chop green jalapenos, that's definitely something that would have to be done after hours when customers are not present.     
 
buffalo chopper.jpg

 
 
 

The Hot Pepper

Founder
Admin
The article said he ground his chiles by hand... to me that means dried... but it's open to interpretation. But you are posting machines.
 
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