Jalapeno Sauce and Eagle Heights Community Garden in Madison, Wisconsin

Wisconsin is known for beer, brats and dairy products, especially cheese.  If you read Bunkycooks on Monday, you will know that Madison, Wisconsin is also known for its Dane County Farmer’s Market.  It is the largest producer-only market in the country.

We were very impressed with the market and the varieties of produce, flowers, cheeses and other items sold there and wish we had something like it in Atlanta.  With hundreds of vendors and thousand of visitors, it was pretty spectacular.

My stepdaughter and her husband visit the Farmers’ Market almost every Saturday morning and then they spend part of the rest of their weekend tending to and picking their own berries, vegetables and herbs at their garden located at Eagle Heights Community Garden.

This community garden sits right near the campus of The University of Wisconsin and is owned by the school.  Looking over the many acres dedicated to this community garden, it seemed endless.  We watched the gardeners come and go as they tended to their plots and took home the fruits of their labor.

Angela and Jim have a standard size plot, which is approximately 20’ X 25’.  They pay $35 per year to be able to plant what they choose to and maintain this plot.  The community provides the tools and water for their use.

This has been a tough growing season with the extreme heat, but Angela and Jim did have success with their onions, garlic, carrots, beets, tomatoes, radishes, lettuces, peppers and various herbs.  That sounds pretty good to me! 🙂

We had these carrots for dinner

We took home some carrots, beets, basil and jalapeño peppers last Saturday.  After a stop at the Willy Street Co-op for some local grassfed N.Y. Strip Steaks to throw on the grill for Mr. Bunkycooks birthday dinner, Jim whipped up a Jalapeño Sauce for the steaks.  I must admit that when he said jalapeño I thought it would be really hot and spicy and an odd combination with the steak.  I was wrong.  It was a perfect accompaniment to meat and not just steak.  It was tasty enough that I decided to make it again and share the recipe with you!

The version of the sauce we had in Madison was made with homegrown jalapeños, a sweet onion and cilantro.  I made it with jalapeños from the local Farmers’ Market, a shallot and cilantro.  Mine definitely had a bit more of a bite when I tasted it by itself, which I think was caused by using the shallot rather than the sweet onion (which is what I had on hand).  However, even with a bit of a bite when tasted by itself, the sauce changes when combined with the meat.

Hops – of course they would grow hops in Wisconsin!

When added to a grilled meat it takes on an element of sweetness.  The sear on the meat and the Jalapeño Sauce form a very different taste together than what you would expect.  Last night we grilled locally produced bone-in pork chops and it once again added another dimension of flavor to the pork.  It was delicious!

They had me working out there too!


I wish I could have taken home some of the lavender!

Be sure to remove all the seeds and insides of the peppers, unless you want a really hot and spicy sauce.  You might want to wear gloves to do this.  I didn’t and my fingers were zinging for a bit after dinner last evening.  I would use less vinegar than recommended so the sauce is not so liquidy.  If you have an aversion to cilantro, you might enjoy the sauce with parsley.

Angela picked the jalapenos for the sauce

We know there are lots more uses for this great tasting sauce, such as topping a pan seared or grilled fish.  Mr. B has other ideas, so I will keep you posted after we try them!

Let the food processor do most of the work in making this simple sauce.


Serve the sauce with any grilled meat for a great flavor combination!

I will have another post on Madison and a recipe for a Wisconsin specialty next week, so stay tuned!


Jalapeno Sauce

This fresh jalapeno pepper sauce is delicious when paired with grilled meats and seafood.


1 medium sweet onion, such as Vidalia or Walla Walla, finely chopped
8 Jalapeño chilies, seeded and diced (for a hotter salsa, leave some of the seeds in)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
3/4 cup distilled white vinegar (use less)
2 teaspoons coarse salt (kosher or sea) or more to taste
1/2 freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste


Place the onions and chilies in a food processor and process to a coarse puree. Add the cilantro, vinegar and salt and pepper and pulse to blend. Correct the seasoning, adding the salt or pepper; the salsa should be highly seasoned. The salsa tastes best served the day it’s made. Transfer any leftovers to a jar, cover and refrigerate. This salsa will keep several days.

Recipe courtesy of Barbecue Bible – Steve Raichlen