Not too long ago I made a fantastic batch of red pepper flake using my dehydrator, a Nesco Snackmaster Pro. I use the spicy flakes on just about everything. But, I thought, nothing wrong with making an even tastier, hotter version. So I grabbed a big bag of red habaneros and proceeded to make smoked habanero flake.
Smoking the habaneros, though not required, gives the flakes a fantastic slightly-smoky flavor and aroma, much more complex than if you just ground dried habaneros. And oh, yes, these flakes are mighty hot. You have to be careful handling the peppers, and trust me, when you grind them, do NOT put your face over the grinder when you remove the lid. I speak the truth here, it’ll get you.
- Ripe habaneros, any color, preferably all roughly the same size
- Fire up your smoker. Add a few chunks of stronger wood, such as hickory. Do not use a fruity wood such as apple, peach, etc.
- Add the habaneros to the smoker and smoke for 2 hours. You're not looking to dry them (though you could given plenty of time), just get a nice smoke flavor.
- Remove the habaneros and transfer to your dehydrator, set to 165 F.
- Dry the habaneros until crispy, 8-12 hours (or more if they are large, less if they are smaller). Rotate the trays every 2 hours to ensure even drying.
- Remove the habaneros and let cool slightly.
- Remove the stems from the peppers.
- Working in batches, transfer the peppers to a spice grinder with blades (do not use a burr grinder) and grind until the desired sized flakes are achieved.
- Store in an air-tight container.
- Note: The flakes will be mighty hot, so use sparingly.