Heartbreaking Dawns’ Hot Sauce Tips for Summer Grilling


[This guest post is by Heidi Raker-Goldstein of Redhead with a Fork]

Chef Johnny McLaughlin, founder of Heartbreaking Dawns Artisan Foods LLC, the award-winning hot sauce company based in Wyckoff, NJ, knows how to crank up the heat. The hot sauce guru formed the company four years ago with his wife Nicole by blending their backyard bumper crop of chili pepperbushes into an array of sauces, going public with three main flavors in 2009.

The original three Heartbreaking Dawns creations, starting at $6.99, include Jalapeno Pineapple, Classic Gold, and Mango Habanero. McLaughlin’s flavors stand out because they combine fresh fruits with the spiciness of traditional hot sauce, adding sweetness to compliment the featured pepper. There are now 11 flavors total including the original three, some of which are Supershots, Chocolate Habanero, Ghost Pepper, Trinidad Scorpion, and CAUTERIZER Trinidad Scorpion, all using fruit, spice and pepper extracts to deliver a range of earthy and floral notes or deep chocolate tones. Bottles of Heartbreaking Dawns can be found in Chef Central and Kings Food Markets.


Whether it provides gentle waves of mild heat or wicked lashes to the tongue, hot sauce is a home cook’s secret weapon that adds flavor and intensity to all things mixed, tossed, roasted, grilled or brined – essentially anything we eat or drink.

“Hot sauce isn’t just for chili and its power comes in the form of building layers of flavors through pepper blends. Its image has changed dramatically in recent years as heat fans celebrate its powers of delivering potent umami or a deeper dimension of taste to dishes both savory and sweet,” said McLaughlin.

Here are Chef Johnny’s suggestions to kick up the summer heat in an ultra refreshing way, incorporating hot sauce and more:

• Instead of monster burgers, try a wider assortment of sliders. Guests will be more likely to pace themselves and enjoy a wider variety of flavors.
• Be sure to use fresh cheeses, pickled toppings, fresh greens and more. Turn basic condiments into a wider spectrum with the addition of hot sauce, transforming flavors and regulating heat levels according to your palate preferences.
• The word on pork: on a hot day, heavy barbecue sauce isn’t always the answer. Try thinning out fiery chutney with citrus juice such as orange or pineapple, a dash of mustard and diced scallion for a marinade. You’ll be amazed with the bright crisp flavor of the finished dish.
• Need a side sauce? Soften up some onion and garlic and reduce with a fruit-based hot sauce. Finish it off with fresh cilantro and drizzle over dish.
• A wide assortment of hot sauces at the raw bar will be sure to spark excitement and conversation. Line them up with clams, oysters, shrimp and more.
• Remember, any hot sauce can be transformed into a wing sauce. It’s easy: 2 parts sauce, 1 part butter and 1 part cider vinegar (optional) to make a variety of sauces for your collection.
• Dessert: lose the sugar and substitute Heartbreaking Dawns Trail Preserves to toss those apples for a pie even grandma will love.

Chef Johnny’s Summer BBQ Tips for Using Hot Sauce to Add Seduction through Heat:

• Blend Heartbreaking Dawns’ Tomato-Based Classic Gold with some ketchup, fresh basil, and Parmesan for a hamburger spread.
• Add Jalapeno Pineapple to any mayo to give it a sweet and spicy tang. Finish off the slider with shredded cabbage and goat cheese.
• Mix the Mango Habanero with mustard. Top this slider with kimchi and friend onions.
• Mix the 1542 Chocolate Habanero Sauce with some crème fraiche. Polish it off with some melted New York sharp cheddar and pickles.
• Perfect for brunch: get creative by adding various hot sauces to your favorite Bloody Mary mix.
• What better way to kick back in the summer than with Electric Lemonade? Add Heartbreaking Dawns’ pear and apple-based Ghost Sauce to bring out delicious bursts of flavor. Muddle in fresh cilantro for a finishing touch.
• Leave out the vermouth. Instead, try lining your next martini glass with a sweet, fruit-based hot sauce.


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