Tom Hall, Executive Chef of Green Spring Valley Hunt Club, is using peppers from a member’s garden and a local farm to create unique hot sauces for the a la carte menu at the club.
A few years ago, David Hamilton, one of our members here at Spring Valley Hunt Club, reached out to me asking if I would be interested in some peppers from his garden. That afternoon, Mr. Hamilton dropped off a couple grocery bags full of peppers. We had a good chat about his garden and his obsession with growing peppers. He said he’d be back every couple weeks with more for the kitchen to use.
My first inclination was to make some hot sauce with Mr. Hamilton’s peppers, but it was not something I had ever done before. Then I remembered seeing a recipe for Sean Brock’s “Husk Hot Sauce” in his cookbook, Heritage. So I bought some fermentation jars with airlocks and got to work processing the peppers. I made one batch of green hot sauce and one batch of red hot sauce. Once they were finally ready, my staff and I were blown away by how delicious both were. I shared some with Mr. Hamilton and we agreed that the following year we needed to make more.
The following year, Mr. Hamilton planted even more peppers and I bought more equipment for making the hot sauces. On top of our hot sauce journey, we also decided to start a Seed Starting Class for youngsters at the club. We bought seed starting trays, dirt, and all kinds of different seeds. We had a large group participate and were delighted to see pictures from everyone as their gardens grew throughout the summer.
While the pandemic canceled our Seed Starting Class this past April, we were still ready to plant all kinds of vegetables in our garden, especially peppers. Mr. Hamilton planted his largest pepper garden yet with over 40 varieties. He shared some of the types he was most excited about with me to make sure at least one of us had success with the peppers.
During the pandemic, I decided to reach out to some local farms. Our club has been fortunate to stay very busy throughout the pandemic and I thought maybe we could help local farms be successful, too. I reached out to Jon Shaw of Karma Farms in Monkton, Maryland, who is a farmer that supplies some of the best restaurants in Baltimore and Washington D.C. We started offering his produce at our club both on the menu as well as setting up and running a farmer’s market for our membership.
One of the things Jon and his team had an abundance of was peppers. Between Karma Farms, Mr. Hamilton, and my own garden, I was surrounded by peppers of every shape, spice and color. Peppers ranged from Row 7’s famous Habanada—a habanero without the heat—to Apocalypse Scorpions which are as spicy as they sound. Over the last couple of months, we have been preparing a variety of sauces to make available for sale at the club. With football season upon us, we ran a to-go wing special where we also made all the hot sauces available for purchase.
One little email from Mr. Hamilton led me on a journey to new relationships, new club events and some tasty new hot sauces for everyone to enjoy.