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Winter Chili and the Hottest Pepper on Earth

We usually focus on the “wearing fuzzy things” approach to winter, but there are plenty of other tricks for getting the colder half of the year unchilled, starting with your dinner plate.

So in honor of the dropping temperature, we’d like to walk you through the basics of one of our favorite winter foods: chili infused with the Bhut Jolokia, the hottest pepper on earth.

It’s a little dangerous…but it’s worth it.

First, a little background. Also known as the Ghost Pepper, the Bhut Jolokia’s the hottest pepper in the world—over 400 times hotter than Tabasco. Indian police use it to control rioters. People are regularly hospitalized after eating it. (Here’s a video testimonial.) In short, it’s not for the faint of heart. But if you can pull it off right, it’ll provide a spiciness genuinely unlike anything you’ve tasted—flavored somewhere between jalapeño and wasabi, intensifying with time and flushing out all your pores and sinuses along the way.

If you tackle it right, the intense spiciness isn’t too hard to manage. You’ll want to start with dried peppers like these and start with just a few. The rest of the chili will do a lot to spread out the spiciness, but a little still goes a long way.

But most importantly, once it’s done, you’ll be in for a full-body capsaicin trip, waking up every part of your body from the winter numbness. We like to think of it as two weeks in the Caribbean crammed into a single hour. Of course, you won’t really need it until the February doldrums kick in…but you’ll want to start practicing now.

And building up a tolerance.