Food & Drink | April 2018

By Abby & Kevin Tankersley

Better with Sriracha

Harrison DeHay is the cook of the house. (And he’s also the folder of clothes; at least that was what he was doing when we spoke on the phone one recent evening.) As the chief cook, he loves the versatility of eggs.

“You can turn them into almost anything, put them on almost anything,” he said. “You can’t beat a fried egg with the edge really crispy and the yolk nice and runny.”

But what can make that fried egg even better?

“Sriracha on top — always,” DeHay said.

DeHay always adds a squeeze of the hot sauce to eggs and sometimes to pizza, especially a slice with just cheese. He’s been known to spice up turkey or chicken sandwiches by swirling Sriracha in with the mayonnaise. He’ll put Sriracha and relish on a hot dog if there’s no ketchup or mustard around. (If he’s in North Carolina, the home state of his wife, Ali Chappell DeHay, he’ll add coleslaw to his Sriracha-drenched hot dog.)

DeHay said he discovered Sriracha in 2012, when he was attending Baylor. He found a bottle of the stuff on a countertop during one meal when he was eating at the dining hall in the Penland Residence Hall. DeHay, the son of Sherry and Jeff DeHay of Woodway, grew up eating salsas, which are “all similar,” he said, and Tabasco, the hot sauce in the tall, skinny bottle that’s been produced in Louisiana since 1868.

“Sriracha is just much more interesting than Tabasco,” he said. “Tabasco is too vinegary, if I remember. I haven’t had it in a long time.”

(“Tabasco” is a trademark of the McIlhenny Company, the producer of Tabasco sauce. The word “Sriracha” is a generic term, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, but the Associated Press Stylebook says that it should also be capitalized because it’s named after the city where it was first served, Si Racha, in eastern Thailand. #GrammarNerd)

Sriracha is a type of hot sauce, made from chili peppers, vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt. The brand of Sriracha we’re most familiar with is produced by Huy Fong Foods in Irwindale, California. It’s the stuff that comes in a plastic container that’s adorned with a picture of a rooster. DeHay likes the packaging of that brand of Sriracha.

“I like the bottle,” he said. “It’s a squeeze bottle with a tip. Sriracha flies out of there. I feel like I’m on ‘Chopped’ when I drizzle it on my fried eggs.”

DeHay, who earned his master’s degree in communication at Baylor in 2016 and now teaches in that department, and his wife — who graduated from Baylor’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary in 2016 and is minister to youth at Calvary Baptist Church — have been married for two years. Even though Ali grew up with Sriracha in the kitchen, she’s not as big of a fan as her husband.

“Her dad was into Asian cuisine and always had it around,” DeHay said. “But I definitely put it on more stuff than she does. I usually throw it on my dish but not always on hers.”

For the recipes this month, we wanted to venture into more than fried eggs with Sriracha drizzled on top (as good as that combination is), so we based an entire meal on the hot sauce. And if you’re feeling ambitious, there’s even a recipe to make your own Sriracha.

The Recipes

Buttermilk-Sriracha Fried Chicken with Sriracha-Honey Glaze

  • 1 whole, cut-up chicken
  • 4-6 cups buttermilk
  • 4 tablespoons Sriracha (or less, depending on how hot you want the chicken)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, seasoned with your choice of salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder or other spice blend
  • Canola oil, for frying

For the glaze:

  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons Sriracha (or to taste)

Place the chicken, buttermilk and Sriracha in a large plastic container with a lid. Make sure all the chicken pieces are submerged in the buttermilk. Cover tightly and place in the refrigerator to marinate at least a couple of hours or up to overnight.

In a shallow dish, whisk together the flour with the seasonings of choice. Remove the chicken from the marinade. Dip one piece of chicken in the flour, coating all sides well. Shake off any excess, then place the chicken on a sheet pan. Repeat with all the chicken pieces. Place the sheet pan holding the chicken in the refrigerator or freezer and let sit for about 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 350 F. Place a sheet pan with a wire rack in the oven.

Heat the canola oil to 350-360 F in a Dutch oven. When the oil is hot enough, add the chicken, 2 or 3 pieces at a time, depending on the size of the pieces; you don’t want to crowd the chicken. Fry for 5-6 minutes, until the chicken is a deep golden brown. Carefully flip the chicken over in the oil and fry the other side for another 5-6 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove the chicken from the oil and place on the sheet pan in the oven.

Repeat with the remaining chicken. Finish cooking the chicken in the oven until the internal temperature of the chicken is at least 165 F.

To make the glaze, mix together the honey and Sriracha. Drizzle over the chicken before serving.

Makes about 6 servings.
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Sriracha Mac and Cheese

  • 1 tablespoon and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 pound whole wheat elbow macaroni (or regular elbow macaroni)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and grated
  • 1 medium jalapeño, seeded and minced (optional)
  • 3-5 tablespoons Sriracha
  • 1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Monterey jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

For the bread crumb topping:

  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 375 F.

Fill a large pot with water and place over high heat. When bubbles begin to form on the bottom of the pan, add 1 tablespoon salt to the water. Bring water to a full boil, then add the pasta. Stir the pasta, then let the water come back to a full boil. Cover the pot with a lid, then turn off the heat. Allow the pasta to sit undisturbed for 13 minutes.

Save 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta and return to the pot. In a large pan, melt 4 tablespoons butter over medium-low heat. Once the butter is melted, whisk in the flour and combine until it’s lightly bubbling and just starting to smell a little nutty.

Whisk in the milk, 1 cup at a time, and turn the heat up to medium. Let the milk come to a simmer so that it can thicken up a bit.

After the mixture has thickened, add the 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, garlic, jalapeño (if using) and Sriracha.

Remove from heat and mix in cheeses, 1 cup at a time, until melted and incorporated.

Put the pasta into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and pour the cheese sauce over it. Mix everything together very well.

In a small bowl, mix together the panko bread crumbs and melted butter. Spread evenly across the top of the pasta, and then sprinkle on additional parmesan.

Place in the oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until the mixture is bubbly and the bread crumbs are turning golden. Drizzle extra Sriracha, if desired, and serve. Makes about 6-8 servings.
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Sautéed Green Beans with Sriracha-Glazed Pecans

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon Sriracha (to taste)
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 2 pounds green beans, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup blue cheese, crumbled

Heat oven to 350 F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the sugar, water and Sriracha to a boil, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. Remove pan from heat; stir in pecans and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Spread pecan mixture in an even layer on prepared pan. Bake for 12 minutes or until fragrant and browned. Cool in pan, stirring occasionally.

Place green beans in a large saucepan of boiling water; cook 4 minutes. Drain and plunge green beans into ice water; drain.

In a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add beans; sauté 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and black pepper over green beans; toss. Place beans on a serving platter; sprinkle with pecans and blue cheese. Serve immediately.

Makes about 12 servings.
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Sriracha Bloody Mary

  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 4 ounces tomato juice
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce pickle or olive juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon horseradish
  • 2 pinches celery salt
  • 3 dashes Sriracha
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce

Combine all the ingredients into a mixing glass. Add ice and roll the mixing glass to combine ingredients — this is not a shaken cocktail.

Strain into an ice-filled glass and garnish with your choice of a celery stalk, lemon or lime wedge, pickled green tomatoes on a skewer, olives, baby carrots or cocktail onions.

Makes 1 drink.
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Homemade Sriracha

  • 2 cups (about 8 ounces whole) red chilies, such as Fresno, serrano or jalapeño, in any ratio, split and seeded
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup hot water

In a small saucepan, combine chilies, garlic, sugar, salt and vinegar. Cover and heat gently over low heat for 30 minutes.

Pour chili mixture and the hot water into a blender. Remove the center piece of blender lid to allow steam to escape. Place a clean towel over the opening to avoid splatters. Blend until smooth, adding more hot water if necessary.

Pour into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for 7-10 days. If the sauce separates, stir it briskly until it combines again.

Makes about 16 servings, 1 tablespoon each.
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