Monday, 4 January 2016

Hot Burrito Sauce - Capsicana Chilli Co Ltd

While ambling around the fabulous Bakers and Larners (proper old-fashioned) department store in Holt (Norfolk) I found a small range of chilli sauces by a Hitchin company called Capsicana Chilli Co Ltd.  As I looked down my nose at the range (they were on a high shelf, I wasn't snobby) I saw the usual stalwarts like Chipotle and favourites like Bhut Jolokia.  My wife politely pointed out that my stocks of chilli sauce are already breaching the shelf that has been assigned to them, so did I really need more sauce?  Silly question you may thing, but she has a very valid point.  Then I spotted this 'burrito sauce' and I stopped agreeing with her and bought a bottle.  The other reason I bought a bottle was that on first glance I thought the company name was 'Capicana Chilli Cola Co.', and anything that strange will always pique my interest.

What the hell is burrito sauce?

Part of the reason I bought this sauce is that I don't see how anyone can claim to make a sauce that suits all burritos; a burrito can contain a mixture of a bewildering variety of ingredients.  How can one sauce suit a creamy refried bean burrito AND a Jamacian Jerk burrito?  A bold claim indeed, and one that I needed to put to the test.  Unfortunately the evening after I bought this sauce there was not a burrito in sight (I was actually on holiday!) so I had to try this sauce on nachos made with ingredients from the local Budgens store.

Thin sauces really bug me, and that's a theme that will no-doubt repeatedly reveal itself as this blog matures.  I gave the bottle a shake and cautiously took of the lid and gently shook it over my nachos.   Nothing happened.  This was actually a good thing, if a sauce is good and thick it has already scored some plus points with me.  I tapped the bottle.  Nothing happened.  Okay, so I like thick sauces but I like to be able to actually get the sauce from the bottle to the plate.  I gave the bottle another shake and that's when disaster struck - the dreaded chilli sauce bottle airlock effect!  Not the fault of Capsicana Chilli Co Ltd, more the fault of my own for being so hungry and keen to try the sauce.  BLOB, went the sauce in abundance.  Oh well.

Enough of my culinary clumsiness, on with the chilli sauce review!

The label on the bottle promised lime-based zing, and while it was certainly present it was a little obscured by the Habanero hit, obscured but quite well complimented.  Overall the sauce has quite a dark taste, not as dark as a Jerk sauce, but definitely containing a nod in that general direction.  Slopped with no particular finesse over my nachos it greatly improved the dish, but didn't burn for long enough to overpower the other tastes in my supper.  This sauce is a bit like that type of person you sometimes see at a house party who is a bit loud and likes the sound of his own voice, the type of person whom after spending time with and getting to know you'll probably end up being best friends with for life.

Ingredients - Hot Burrito Sauce - Capsicana Chilli Co Ltd

  • Water
  • Vinegar
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Blended chillies (6%)
  • Sugar
  • Habanero chillies (2%)
  • Garlic
  • Coriander
  • Lime
  • Salt
  • Stabiliser (xanthan gum)

Chilli sauce stats

  • Heat - 80%
  • Lingering burn - 60%
  • Presentation - 30%
  • Humour - 20%
  • Versatility / overall joy - 40%


  • Good with rice stirfry
  • Good with burritos
  • Good with chilli con carne
  • Good with nachos
  • Good with cheesy dishes

Diced chili chipotle - Cool Chile Co

Now this product clearly isn't a sauce, but there's more to this world than chilli sauces!  This gorgeous little tin was bought for me as a gift and other than the dried chilies I'd previous bought (then not really known what to do with) I'd not seen chilies prepared this way before.  Curiously there is no ingredients list, mostly likely because there is only one ingredient - the chipotle chillies!

I wasn't sure exactly what I was going to find when I popped the lid on this cool little tin, I had no idea if the chipotles were going to be big wet chunks that would drop out of the can onto my kitchen floor, or whether the tin would contain a fine powder that I'd be likely to accidentally inhale.  So after carefully removing the lid I tentatively peered into the tin and (with some trepidation) lifted the tin to give it a sniff.  Oh my!  What a smell!  These finely chopped dried chipotle chillies smell exactly the same as hand-rolling tobacco like Old Holborn!  I mean that in a very good way, I'm not a smoker but the smell of tobacco is gorgeous!  The aroma pouring from this tin brought back childhood memories of elderly relatives smoking aromatic pipe tobacco.  Smells can invoke wonderful memories, and these diced chipotle from the Cool Chile Co. is worth buying for the smell alone.  It really is quite remarkable.

Diced chilli chipotle - what does it taste like?

I'm guessing the Cool Chile Co. put a ton of effort into sourcing these peppers, and that hard work has really paid off.  The label cites Mexico as the source, but have a look at Mexico on a map, it's HUGE.  If you have a reasonable tolerance to chilli heat then you'll be able to tolerate trying a flake or two straight out of the tin; they're hot, but not intolerably so.  But that's not really the way this product is designed to be consumed, it's much more of an ingredient than a garnish.  If you can risk it I'd recommend trying at least one flake straight out of the pack, it's really the best way to wrap your chops around that amazing smokey taste.  As soon as you add some of the chilli flakes into a dish you're going to lose some of that smokey clout, that's not a criticism, it's a cold-hearted scientific fact.

Go steady with this product if you've got family members who aren't as into aural annihilation as you are; I've put as little as a third of a teaspoon in a stew-for-four and had complaints from sweat-drenched family members.  Adding a fingernail's worth of these dried chipotles to any tomato-based dish I'm cooking has become something of a no-brainer.  I've also used these flakes instead of chorizo a bunch of times, the taste really is that good.

Chilli stats

Heat - 70%
Lingering burn - 40%
Presentation - 90%
Humour - 10%
Versatility - 80%

Goes well in chilli con carne
Goes well in almost any tomato dish
Goes well in spaghetti bolognaise
Tastes great on pizzas
Tastes great straight out of the tin!

None, make sure you read about our ratings system - a low number is NOT a bad score!