Chili Sauce is a time-honored tradition in this country, at least here in the east. I didn’t encounter Chili Sauce at all during my years in the US nor in my years out west, so I think it is somewhat unique to Southern Ontario. The name itself is something of a misnomer; it doesn’t contain chilies and it isn’t really sauce. It’s more of a relish. Just about every Canadian family has its own, sacred recipe for using up the last of the summer tomatoes and sweet peppers which grow with gusto in this part of the land. And every family thinks their recipe is the best!
I’ll admit I’m a little late with it this year as October was something of a blur. We caught just the tail-end of the Ontario field tomatoes at the Belleville Farmer’s Market on Saturday. Local peppers are still profuse in our grocery stores.
So Sunday afternoon with the help of a nice bottle of Beringer, Mums and I chopped and peeled and sliced and diced, then set the aromatic mixture of vegetables scented with cloves, cinnamon, ginger and mustard seed on the hob. The fragrance filled up the house with autumn. Anyone who grew up in this part of the world is instantly transported back through time by that aroma.
Chili Sauce is a great pantry staple and, like so many preserved foods from wintertime countries, there are a million ways to use it. Most people like to eat it with omelets or scrambled eggs. I love to serve it with rustic crackers and sharp local cheese, but it’s also great for cooking. It adds a sweet zip to stews and soups. It makes a great glaze for ham or pork roast and can’t be beat as the base for rib sauces. Here’s a classic recipe if you care to give it a shot.