Edible Gift

Torrisi's Spicy Sauce (The Instant Holiday Gift)

December  5, 2012

We love going DIY with pretty much everything, from marshmallows to mozzarella, but pulling out homemade hot sauce is a good way to make us feel especially proud of ourselves. 

This fresh Sriracha by edamame2003 was the Food52 viral sensation of summer 2010, but what are we supposed to do when we can't get our mitts on fresh Fresno chiles?

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The answer: make Spicy Sauce. All year long, over and over again, make Spicy Sauce.

It's the invention of Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone, the geniuses behind Torrisi Italian Specialties, but below you will find a perfectly scaled version for your kitchen. 

It calls for ingredients you already have -- or can find in the midsection of your local grocery store -- and has but one step: blend. (Two if you count "mise en place" a.k.a. opening some jars and cans).

It's fiercely addictive stuff: electric, a tiny bit creamy from whipped up olive oil, and as spicy as you want it to be. (Unlike with fresh peppers, you can easily adjust the heat in the moment.)

Our Editorial Assistant Brette Warshaw got so hooked on it this summer that, lacking a blender in New York, she was known to cart tubs of it back from weekends home in Connecticut on the train. (Did I mention that Brette is my hero?)

It's the house hot sauce at Torrisi and its little sister Parm, where they mix it with sautéed broccoli rabe and spread it on roast turkey sandwiches. 

Other places to put it: On eggs, fried, scrambled, fritattaed. On roast pork and potatoes. On stir-fried greens. On banh mi or brisket sandwiches. In soups, stews, and pots of beans

It also makes a bang-up edible gift, for that person on your list who has everything and maybe doesn't want another tin of snickerdoodles.

Hoping that it could be safely water-bath canned too, I wrote to Food52's local canning expert, MrsWheelbarrow. She let me down gently (it involves olive oil, and thus would require some special equipment and recipe reverse-engineering -- it could probably be done, but I'll leave that to professionals like her to figure out). 

Here's what I will advise: instead of giving people a shelf-stable year's supply, give them just a small jar, with the recipe printed out all cute (here's your inspiration). 

This will be serve to both get them hungry for more -- as I was after the jar Brette gave me for my birthday this year was gone -- and provide them with a go-to recipe they too can blitz up at a moment's notice. I suppose this is what drug dealers do, but let's not think about that.

MrsWheelbarrow says it should keep in the fridge for up to 6 months, but it won't need to.

Torrisi's Spicy Sauce

Recipe adapted very slightly from New York Magazine

Makes about 2 cups

4 ounces B&G hot cherry peppers (or other pickled hot peppers), stemmed
2 ounces roasted red peppers
2 ounces crushed tomato
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon chile flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon sugar
Salt to taste

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

spicy sauce


Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].

Photos by James Ransom (except Marc Carbone & Rich Torrisi, by Marilyn K. Yee for the New York Times) 

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Lefawn Barefoot
    Lefawn Barefoot
  • KellyBcooks
  • Melissafitz
  • jeanne_marie
  • Dr.Insomnia
I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


Lefawn B. November 20, 2015
❤️ This recipe but also where did you find that spoon? Really. I want
KellyBcooks January 27, 2013
I made this in gift-able jars for my coworkers for Christmas and keep getting reviews about how they use it and how much they have enjoyed! Love this spicy sauce! Just enjoyed some last night with fresh avocado and chips. Some many ways to use. Thanks!
Melissafitz December 17, 2012
shopping from my pantry, i only have sweet peppadews. I was wondering whether i could sub in some chipoltes in adobe sauce for the heat, or would that change the nature of the sauce? thanks!
Kristen M. December 18, 2012
You could certainly do that, but the flavor would be different (smokier, specifically) -- which is great, if that's what you're going for. Or, for more heat, you could add more chile flakes or other ground chile.
jeanne_marie December 16, 2012
Can someone clarify what B & G peppers are? Am I missing some insider knowledge about hot peppers.....can't figure this one out. thanks!
Kristen M. December 16, 2012
It's a nostalgic favorite hot pickled pepper in New York, with nationwide distribution. Check the pickle aisle of your grocery store for them, or other jarred hot pickled peppers, like Peppadews. Here's B&G's product page: http://www.bgpickles.com/bg_products.asp
Dr.Insomnia December 12, 2012
I make a fairly similar hot sauce, a recipe borrowed and modified from a friend. Maybe I should post it one day, because I think it's pretty amazing, maybe even a little better than this because of some slight ingredient and technique changes.

What I don't understand about this recipe is the point of adding chile flakes. It's an almost inconsequential amount, depending on how spicy your peppers are. Chile flakes won't change the flavor, in my estimation, so why not just adjust the peppers to adjust your piquant? My personal technique is to add habanero when I want to add spiciness without significantly altering flavor.
1natalplum December 12, 2012
This is definitely going into my homemade goodies baskets...yum!
Mike-O December 12, 2012
Would this have sufficient acid to qualify for preserving with a boiling water bath canner?
Kristen M. December 12, 2012
Unfortunately not -- check out the explanation above from Cathy Barrow (a.k.a. MrsWheelbarrow). But it will keep for about 6 months in the refrigerator.
LLStone December 10, 2012
I made this last night, and had it tonight on a toasted English muffin w/ cheddar, soft-cooked egg, sauteed mushrooms and roasted red peppers. Plopped sauce over the muffin, then added the stuff. It was so good. I made a 6x batch to give away at work. This stuff has so many possibilities. V Good.
rbnyc December 9, 2012
After going to Parm and having the broccoli rave with spicy sauce I was thrilled to find the recipr in NY Magazine. I have made this sauce a couple times now. Super easy and quick. I typically double the recipe.
mrslarkin December 6, 2012
oh man. i've got visions of dipping some fried calamari in this on Christmas Eve.
Kristen M. December 6, 2012
Now I do too.
Brette W. December 6, 2012
fiveandspice December 5, 2012
Oh yes. I'm seeing sausage and broccoli rabe sandwiches smeared with this in my near future.
Kristen M. December 6, 2012
Yum! Roast pork and rabe, Philly-style, would be great too.
Brette W. December 6, 2012
And provolone!
fiveandspice December 7, 2012
Mmm, yes!
ceeteebee December 5, 2012
Just a clarifying question: is it this recipe that will last for 6 months in the fridge, would you need to seal it in a particular way?
MrsWheelbarrow December 5, 2012
There is no need to seal it, as it is not shelf stable, but to keep the oils from turning, it should remain under refrigeration. As Kristen says, I can't imagine it lasting very long!
Kristen M. December 6, 2012
Thanks Cathy!
BlueKaleRoad December 5, 2012
You did it again - definitely a genius recipe! I can't wait to make this to eat and gift.
Kristen M. December 6, 2012
Hope you like it!
blanka.n December 5, 2012
I really can't wait to make this. Sounds like it could go with so many things!
Kristen M. December 6, 2012
It definitely does.
EmilyC December 5, 2012
Such a great, timely, genius gift idea. I knew I wanted to make this from the picture alone, but then I read that you can mix this with sautéed broccoli rabe. Sold!
Kristen M. December 6, 2012
Thanks Emily! Rabe in spicy sauce is one of the daily sides sold at Parm -- so good.