1 pound fresh sweet cherries, pitted (they should weigh 14 ounces after pitting, about 2 heaped cups)
1 to 3 fresh habanero peppers (1 for mild, 2 for hot, 3 for incendiary)
1/4 teaspoonkosher salt
1 cupcider vinegar
Makes:Just under 2 cups
This is my idea of a perfect summer hot sauce, a vibrant enhancer for all the fresh, lively flavors of food in the warm months. Drizzle onto grilled steaks or pork chops, or mix a little into Greek yogurt for a smoked cherry dip to serve with roasted cauliflower and carrots.
Game plan: Habaneros are particularly spicy chile peppers, so we suggest wearing a pair of latex gloves when removing the seeds.
Special equipment: You’ll need a stovetop smoker—our favorite is this compact and affordable one from Camerons.
1Add the wood chips to your stovetop smoker and place over medium-high heat. Add the pitted cherries and whole habanero (or habaneros) and smoke for 12 minutes. Remove the cherries and habanero(s) and cool until they’re easy to handle, about 10 minutes.
2Cut open the habanero(s) and remove the seeds (if you open and seed them before smoking, the interior flesh absorbs too much smoke).
3Add the cherries, seeded habanero(s), salt, and vinegar to a blender. Process until very smooth (you want to get it really blended). Strain through a medium-mesh strainer 3 times. Refrigerate in a container with a tightfitting lid for up to 2 weeks.