- Jess Miller
- Fiery hot sauce from Subiaco
St. Benedict, founder of the order to which the monks of Subiaco Abbey belong, said that “idleness is the enemy of the soul,” and implored his followers to dedicate themselves to both learning and manual labor. The brothers of the abbey have been applying the rule of St. Benedict since the late 1800s by working the earth of Logan County through farming and raising award-winning Angus cattle. In 2003, they added habanero peppers to their repertoire after Father Richard Walz returned from Belize with some seeds and a recipe for hot sauce. While the concoction of peppers, onion, garlic, vinegar, and salt — dubbed “Monk Sauce” — is certainly tasty, this is certainly not a sauce for the faint of heart. According to the Subiaco website, their hot sauce ranks at around 250,000 on the Scoville Heat Unit scale; Tabasco brand Habanero sauce comes in at a comparatively measly 7,000.
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The sauce is available in two different varieties: a green version made from unripe (but still hot) peppers, and a red version made from the fully ripe habaneros. While both versions of the sauce had my mouth burning, there’s still an impressive amount of flavor in these sauces to accompany the heat. The red version was my favorite, and after the initial blast of heat faded from my tongue I could really taste the sweet, almost fruity flavor that the habanero is so famous for. The green was a touch more sour, with a tangy flavor and thicker consistency than the sweeter red. Both sauces make for the perfect addition to anything from pizza to purple hulls to a great way to kick up a fresh salsa or homemade barbecue sauce. According to the monks at Subiaco, the secret to making a good sauce is a simple one: use lots and lots of peppers, and from the sweat on my brow and the smile on my face, I have to say that they seem to have gotten it right.
Monk Sauce is available directly from the Subiaco Abbey on-line store (where you can also purchase some of their famous peanut brittle), or locally at Eggshells Kitchen Company on Kavanaugh Boulevard in the Heights. If anything, picking up a bottle or two of this searing sauce might make these record-breaking summer days somewhat cooler by comparison.