1- Use gloves
2- Never touch your eyes while dealing with them
3- Be sure to wipe down anything habaneros touch before touching them with your bare hands.
4- Habaneros are hot little suckers and should not be used unless you can really stand the heat.
Let's just say I didn't exactly stick to this list. Can you guess which was the only rule I followed?
I picked up a basket of habanero chilis from the local farmers market. I thought I would stuff them with some Italian sausage and cream cheese (the cheese helping cut the heat). When I went to make the dish last night I was multi-tasking. Stuffed Peppers was one of four dishes that consisted of my Sunday night cooking extravaganza. Dinner was made and eaten while I worked on the other three recipes I had planned. While the green beans were stewing, the yams were being processed, I started to cut and gut the habaneros for stuffing. Did I mention I was also watching episodes of Hero's that we had recorded?
I didn't use the gloves (Breaking rule #1). I used one of those plastic veggie bags from the supermarket to hold the chili's while I worked on them. But between the TV and the other stuff cooking on the stove I forgot several times what I was doing and I picked up fresh live habanero guts with my fingers. I then proceeded to use these fingers to do many other things in the kitchen (thus breaking rule #3) spreading habanero oil all over the counters, the utensils, the dishes. At some point, I realized that my fingers were burning. Along with my lips because somehow I had transfered the habanero oil onto the spoon that I was taste testing the green beans from. Which got on the plate that I gave to Mr. L to taste test the beans. I knew I was in trouble when Mr. L suggested that I shouldn't put jalapenos into the beans next time. Needless to say there were no peppers in the beans.
Gotta love the iPhone where a quick search online revealed how to deal with the heat of the habanero oil. Also gotta love Mr. L who went downstairs, got some gloves and proceeded to disinfect the entire kitchen...while I sat on the couch in the living room chastised by being beaten by a few small peppers. One lucky part about all this was that I never touched my eyes during this fiasco. Though trying to get my contacts off while wearing gloves (just in case) at the end of the night was pretty comical. (Note to self, next time you work with hot peppers, even if you do wear gloves, take the contacts out first).
In case you are wondering I threw the batch of habaneros away before I even stuffed them. I'll go to the store tonight and get some jalapenos and stuff those instead. For this heat loving girl, I was horrified to find that I was bested by these little suckers. Trust me, I will be more careful next time. And yes, there will be a next time, I know where the big box of gloves lives in the garage now.