The scotch bonnet pepper is, in my opinion, one of the finest varieties of chili peppers on the planet. As hot as a habanero but sweeter with a more complex flavor, it makes a fine hot sauce and is an essential ingredient in Jamaican cuisine.
This year I decided to try my hand at growing peppers, and so naturally I made sure the scotch bonnet was well-represented among the 50 or so plants I put in the ground. And they have done quite well. I planted many different varieties of peppers, from sweet or mild varieties such as Chocolate Bell, Garden Sunshine, and Hungarian Paprika (another unsung hero of the pepper family), to your everyday hot peppers such as Jalapeño, Poblano, Cayenne, and Hot Cow Horns, to the so-called “super hot” Ghost Pepper, Fatali, Jamaican Hot Chocolate, and of course the might Scotch Bonnet. Among the super hot varieties I planted, the Scotch Bonnets have outperformed all the rest combined by a 10-to-1 margin at least. Which means, in short, I have had an abundance of resources to experiment with.
My affinity for this particular pepper began, I suppose with a general appreciation for Jamaican cuisine, which in my opinion is the perfect blend of Latin, Caribbean, African, and Indian influences combined with slap-you-in-the-face heat and liberal use of charcoal grills. I would go so far as to say that if I could invent my own national cuisine, it would look strikingly similar to Jamaican cuisine. When I started experimenting with recipes for curry, cabbage and jerk chicken, I was forced to seek out sources for this very special, elusive pepper. Once I discovered a source, in the form of a small Caribbean grocer or an unusually well-stocked supermarket, I would usually buy like five pounds or so and stock my freezer while the getting was good. This stockpile would then encourage me to experiment with hot sauces, stews, chili recipes, etc. Eventually I decided it was time to start growing my own, and thus you could say that if it wasn’t for this magical pepper I would not have started gardening in the first place.
I would like to dedicate the first couple of posts on this blog to the mighty scotch bonnet, in order to pay due homage to this fine chili as well as to demonstrate its versatility and overall greatness.
Below you will find links to four of my favorite ways to dispose of my harvest, which offer but a few examples of the many uses in which this delicious pepper can be employed.