How to Win Your Head-to-Head League

HOW_TO_WIN-H2H_AD

While my favorite style of fantasy baseball is the more traditional Rotisserie (ROTO), Head to Head (H2H) offers a completely different challenge. H2H leagues have more luck involved than other types of fantasy games. For example, certain weeks may favor a team simply because all of the team’s starting pitchers may get two starts that week, while its competition will not be able to log as many innings. Then, there is the fantasy football adage, when your team has a phenomenal week that would beat everyone else in the league, except for the team you happen to be playing. This article will focus entirely on how you can win your H2H fantasy baseball league with different strategies, types of players to target and followed by 15 beer cocktails you can try at your next BBQ.

 

 

H2H Scoring

Scoring is simple in most H2H leagues, because you are assigned a list of categories that your fantasy team will compete in on a weekly basis. The team with the better stats in each category gets a point. In categories where both teams have the same stats, some leagues split the point and some leagues just ignore it or call it a tie. Only weekly stats count and after the week is over, every team starts the next match-up from zero. It’s actually a format that ever so slightly helps to handicap veteran fantasy players when competing against people new to the fantasy league experience.

 

 

Review & Understand Your Settings

Like I have said over and over, you must review and understand your league settings.  This is especially true for H2H leaguers.  Having a complete understanding of things like daily or weekly roster changes, weekly minimum innings limits and yearly maximum player additions will go along way in determining your approach to the game.  Next you have to review and understand your team’s roster requirements.  Do you start 2 catchers, and then ask why? Do you start a middle infielder (MI) and then you ask the same question to the commissioner.  How many Starting Pitchers (SP) positions do you have and the same can be said for Relief Pitchers (RP).  Finally, (and most importantly) you need to have a full understanding on the stat categories that will be tracked.

 

In typical H2H leagues, the winner of the week is determined by the player who has won the most of ten scoring categories while losing the least making the minimum number of categories needed to win – six. As mentioned before, in some leagues teams are awarded a win/tie/loss for the entire week, not every category, so if your team wins 6 categories after the first week, your record would be 1 – 0 instead of 6 – 4.  These types of sccoring systems in H2H Leagues are almost designed to penalize teams that draft perfectly balanced teams. That changes a bit if your H2H league uses the total of all fantasy points earned within your league’s categories to determine weekly standings.

 

 

Leave Nothing to Chancemake your own luck

Now that you have reviewed and understand your league’s settings you can turn to preparing your draft strategy. First, you must identify your stat categories that are completely based on chance, and that are unpredictable on a week-to-week basis.  These categories are the ones where the difference between the top players and the average players are only one or two units.  Categories like complete games, shutouts, errors, caught stealing, passed balls, balks, sacrifice flys, sacrifice hits, etc.  These categories should not be used as part of your ranking calculation.

 

When you have rules in the game that favor chance, the best way to win the game is to have luck go your way more often by using an unbalanced strategy.  If you take the balanced approach to drafting your H2H baseball team, your weekly scores are dependent upon a lot of factors beyond your control, including: Pitchers on your team with 2 starts, pitchers on your team with favorable matchups, hitters on your team with 7 game schedules, hitters on your team facing tough pitchers, etc.

 

Identify which categories you want to win by drafting properly. Then, put a customized draft list together that focuses on winning specific categories and letting fate decide the rest of the categories you don’t care about on a weekly basis.

 

 

You Only Need to Win Six out of Ten.

There is no reason to strive to win every category when you only need to win six, preferably seven out of ten. There is also no reason to attempt to do well in every category. Losing strikeouts 100 to 99 is the same as losing 100-1. Inthe end, one player wins the category and we move on to the next. It doesn’t matter how big the margin is within each category, because the categories are ranked individually, so no matter how many extra wins team 1 has over team 2, the points earned for the weekly matchup is still the same, one point for having the better wins total. To win week-in and week-out in an H2H league you need to maximize the categories that will impact other categories and avoid risk. In addition, since H2H is broken down into weeks, that skews the outcomes to two-start pitchers, i.e. two starts from an average starting pitcher can be worth more than one start from and ace.

 

Don’t think about trying to sweep the pitching categories each week when creating your draft board. If you are in a league with daily roster changes, let your Monday/Tuesday starters do the talking. If they post good ratio performances, you can hold your borderline starters back. If they have poor early week outings, go after other categories like strike-outs and wins. You can manage a pitching staff on the fly: good match-ups will always be out there and two-start pitchers are always changing.

 

 

 

H2H Players to Target

You need to determine which categories in your league can be reliably generated on a weekly basis and which groups of statistics are generated from the same type of player. Statistically, hitters are easier to track and project; pitchers, on the other hand, can be dominant one year, and completely worthless or injured the next.

 

In terms of pure value, a high-end hitter is a better use of an early round pick than a high-end pitcher, but to protect yourself from disaster, you might need some measure of balance. Because high-end starting pitchers are plentiful enough in the post-steroids era for most teams to have two or three, going without one puts you at a significant disadvantage. You simply cannot whiff on your first four-to-five draft picks and be competitive.

 

When looking at hitters for H2H, emphasize HRs and SBs. The ability to contribute in both HRs and SBs should help in RBIs and runs. While there will never be a direct correlation, at least by emphasizing HRs/SBs you are betting on something batters can control, H2H is all about the power-speed combo players. Then again what isn’t?

 

Stay away from injury-prone players. While it might not be that big of a deal in ROTO, day-to-day injuries can be devastating in H2H. When a player misses three or four games because of injury it can tank your entire week. Sure, he may come back and make up for lost time, but in H2H leagues, there IS NO making up for it. A loss never goes away. So while you may be inclined to avoid injury-prone players anyway, it’s even more of a priority in Head-to-Head leagues, especially those with weekly scoring.

 

The Troy Tulowitzki-type injuries that land a player on the DL are almost preferable to the little Carlos Gonzalez-type injuries that keep popping up, one after another. A tight hamstring one week. Back spasms the next. Every little ache or pain is potentially the one that sticks you with a loss.

 

And because of that, every lineup decision involving that type of player is nothing short of agonizing. What if he’s nursing a stiff neck heading into a new week? Do you start him, presuming he’s on the mend, or do you sit him, fearful of a couple days extending to a week? Or what if he’s fine to start the week and gets hurt on a Tuesday? Not much you can do then.

 

Then you have the older veterans that are bound to get a day off a week or so.  When deciding between a veteran/established hitter and a young gun with a clear starting role, take the kid. This is also why you can avoid catchers early in your draft. Given the lack of consistent at bats and injury concerns at the position, you can wait. It’s not hard to get top 5-10 catchers at the end of the draft or even off the wire.

 

 

H2H Drafting Strategies

Once your target list is built, identify the players that fit your draft strategy in each round of your draft list. For example, if you have 12 teams in your league, each round is a group of 12 players on your list.  Identify the 3 or 4 players that fit your strategy in each round and plan on taking them if they are available when it is your turn to pick.  However, if none of the players you targeted are available, then take the best available hitter with a good combination of power and speed.

 

Also, once the draft starts, a player’s value to a particular fantasy team changes. If you’ve secured a speedster, another one is not worth a ton. Similarly, if you land an ace starting pitcher, another one might not be worth taking right away.

 

 

Pick Your Stat Categoriesand dominate them

Decide what categories you want to win and make sure that you win them. If you’re not going to win a category, make sure you exclude it when deciding between players and vice versa when drafting categories you do want. If you only are trying to win six categories, don’t try to win ten. There are no medals in head-to-head fantasy for mediocrity. There are awards for championships, and winning the majority of categories is the first step. Know what you want to win, and make sure you win. Make sure as you draft to only focus on the categories you have selected, and to completely exclude the others from your decision making. Remember, the goal is a roster stacked in six or seven categories—not one that’s mediocre in all ten.  Here are some ideas:

 

 

Throw out Batting Average

If you choose to ignore a category, why not throw out batting average? When you do this, players such as Mark Reynolds and J.P. Arencibia who have great power numbers but putrid averages, suddenly become viable players. So what if your average is .250? Having a .270 won’t help you any more when your opponents have averages of .275 or higher. If you’re not going to win a category, do not try to win that category. Focus on the ones you want to win.

 

Remember, eliminating one category, especially batting average, allows you to focus on dominating other the batter categories. If you only need to win six categories, winning four and losing one seems like a fair trade off.

 

 

Avoid Bench Hitters

This is a great strategy if you are in a league with weekly roster changes. In standard 10- or 12-team mixed leagues, the waiver wire functions as your reserve pool. Why stash a quality shortstop if a comparable one would be free for the taking if the need arose? While not having a ton of hitters on your bench, you will be able to have a big pool of pitchers to choose from. In a normal week, one or two pitchers from every big-league rotation will make two starts. The more pitchers you have, the more two-start options you’ll have. Granted, you wouldn’t want to run just any pitcher with two starts out there.

 

 

Just Draft Relievers – and 1 Ace

This strategy contradicts the last one, so you need to decide what strategy you like more. Most of the starting pitchers after the elite are good at one or two categories and brutal at the others. Great pitchers are a nice commodity to have, but will come at the expense of elite batters. Additionally, teams will most likely have more than one starting pitcher, so the strong ERA and WHIP built up by your ace will be destroyed by a middle of the road starter. If you just take relief pitchers, you will be able to build up a respectable ERA and WHIP while dominating in saves, but more importantly, you will be getting them later in the draft. This strategy works in leagues with no minimum innings requirements.

 

 

Starting Pitchers vs. Closers

If you are going to load up on starting pitchers, only draft pitchers with good ratios and strikeout out a ton. You should love Ks because, even if a pitcher has a bad outing, he’ll likely get a good amount of Ks, so there is some certainty there. When you are looking at week-to-week fluctuations, anything you can be certain of is incredibly valuable.

 

People tend to devalue closers in H2H leagues, viewing them as one-category wonders that can’t be trusted to either retain their job or finish games consistently from week to week. While the latter half of that statement might be true, that doesn’t mean closers lack value. Every week you have to maximize your results in the pitching categories. If you lock up saves, all you have to do is win four of the remaining nine categories for a tie or five of nine for a nifty .600 winning percentage. Five/nine is about 55%, whereas six/ten is 60%, so you increase your odds of winning by loading up on closers (roster permitting). This works because most H2H players eschew a bulk closer strategy and usually only have at most three. If you double that amount (depending on your roster slots/rules), you’re in good shape. With closers, it’s important to remember that there is always safety in numbers. Depending on how many RP or P spots you have, you should have a closer for each of those spots. So long as you have at least one above average closer and several fringe closers, you can pretty much guarantee your team will win saves and add 20 – 40 Ks.

 

Another bonus of this draft strategy is that you will have more depth on your team than any other owner, so you can endure an unexpected injury better than most, and if you were to lose a middle reliever to injury, you could simply cut him and grab one of the other 100 players available that can post very good ERA and WHIP numbers.  In addition to the previous items, you will also be in a better position to make 2 for 1 trades to upgrade a good top 50 player into a top 25 player, giving you that much more of an edge in the hitting categories.

 

Once you decide on a particular draft strategy, you need to customize your draft list so that you will achieve your goals.  But remember, other experience owners are also devising similar strategies to dominate certain categories; so when building your list, you can’t completely ignore players who do well in the categories you are planning on forfeiting.

 

 

Conclusion

In H2H leagues, your goal should be to at minimum, make your league’s playoffs.  From there its a couple more match-up wins to a championship.  To do this, on a weekly basis, you have to win the majority of stat categories, not them all. There is no reason to attempt to do well in every category. Before you draft, you need to decide what categories you want to win and make sure that you win them. If you take the balanced approach to drafting your H2H baseball team, your weekly scores are dependent upon a lot of factors beyond your control. You need to maximize the categories that will impact other categories and avoid risk. Then, throughout the season, focus on dominating the majority of categories each week and not be afraid to lose others.

 

 

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15 Beer Cocktails

 

I know what you are thinking? I either drink beer or I have a mixed drink. Why would I want to mix them together?  After you try one or more of these great recipes at your next BBQ, you will have your answer.  Beer cocktails go far beyond the classic shandy or the savory Michelada — a mellow lager can cut sweetness, while a hoppy or sour ale adds a kick of flavor, making beer a great mixure for your next cocktail.  Here are 15 recipes to try.

 

Boilermaker
Beggar’s Banquet
Weissen Sour
Black Velvet
Rub & Rye
Classic Shandy
Ocho Micheladas
Bloody Roman

 

 

Boilermaker

 

INGREDIENTS

1 oz Bourbon or rye whiskey

Beer

 

PREPARATION

Pour the whiskey into a shot glass. Fill a pint glass halfway with beer. Drop the shot glass into the beer and do it.

 

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Beggar’s Banquet

 

As we just saw, what could be better than beer and bourbon?  With this cocktail, you get the boilermaker without the slamming and the pounding.

 

INGREDIENTS

2 dashes Angostura Bitters

.25 oz Fresh lemon juice

.75 oz Maple syrup

2 oz Maker’s Mark Bourbon

Old Speckled Hen Beer

 

PREPARATION

Add all the ingredients, except the beer, to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake and strain into a highball glass filled with fresh ice. Top with beer and garnish with an orange half-wheel.

 

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Weissen Sour

 

Orange- and coriander-scented white (or wit) beer meets a dose of bourbon, a splash of lemon juice and a spoonful of orange marmalade in this easy-drinking beer cocktail.

 

INGREDIENTS:

2 oz. bourbon

3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice

1/4 oz. simple syrup (1:1)

Barspoon of orange marmalade

2 dashes orange bitters

2 oz. white ale

Ice cubes

 

PREPARATION:

Combine all ingredients and gently shake with ice. Strain over fresh ice cubes into a glass and garnish.

 

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Black Velvet

 

Two simple ingredients, Guinness and Champagne make for a classic and tasty cocktail. You may not think it as the essential backyard BBQ beer cocktail, just try it and see.

 

INGREDIENTS

Guinness Beer

Champagne (or sparkling wine)

 

PREPARATION

Fill a highball glass halfway with beer. Pouring over a spoon into the glass, fill to the top with Champagne.

 

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Rub & Rye

 

If you thought you couldn’t pull of the Black Velvet at your next BBQ, don’t even try this drink. With rye whiskey, Belgian beer and a beef-jerky garnish, this is the manliest beer cocktail recipe I have heard of. You are not up to the challenge.

 

INGREDIENTS

Mesquite salt or your favorite barbecue dry rub spice mixture

1.5 oz Bulleit Rye Whiskey

.75 oz Lemon juice

.75 oz Maple syrup

1 oz Egg white

5 oz Scaldis Pêche Mel beer

5 drops Barbecue bitters

 

PREPARATION

Coat the rim of a pint or double Old Fashioned glass with mesquite salt or dry rub. Fill halfway with ice and set aside. Add the rye, lemon juice, maple syrup and egg white to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into the prepared glass. Top with the beer and bitters, and garnish with a piece of beef jerky.

 

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Classic Shandy

 

INGREDIENTS:

3/4 cup old fashioned lemonade

1 1/4 cup Belgian-style wheat beer

Chopped fruit (see below)

 

PREPARATION:

Fill pint glass with ice and slices of lemon, orange and lime, and then pour in the remaining ingredients.

 

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Ocho Micheladas

 

A Michelada is a Mexican ice cold mixed beer drink or cocktail if you will. The closest thing I can say it resembles is a bloody Mary on the rocks minus the Vodka.  It’s the cousin of the Bloody Mary, a cooling mix of fresh squeezed lime juice, savory seasoning and cold beer is all poured over ice – salt rim is optional and a lime wedge constitutes garnish. They’re super easy and great to make for a brunch or post Super Bowl crowd…and certainly less expensive than a pitcher of Bloody Mary’s for eight or ten.

Here are (8) recipes for Micheladas, try them all and then make it your own.

 

 

1. Tomato Michelada

 

This is a classic Michelada with tomato juice. This recipe also has Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, lime juice and red pepper flakes. It’s a drink for the traditionalist.

 

INGREDIENTS:

3 oz tomato or clamato juice

4-5 drops Tabasco sauce

2 dashes Worcestershire sauce

juice of one lime

kosher salt

pinch of red pepper flakes

3 ice cubes

1 bottle Mexican beer (like Corona or another light beer)

 

PREPARATION:

Rub a slice of lime around rim of glass, then dip in a dish of kosher salt to coat rim.

In a separate glass or cocktail shaker, mix together tomato juice, lime juice, Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, pinch of salt (to taste – I used low-sodium tomato juice so I added a bit more), red pepper flakes and ice.  Pour into prepared salt-rimmed glass.  Top up with beer and garnish with a slice of lime.

 

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2.  Spicy Michelada

 

INGREDIENTS:

2 teaspoons honey, spread into a thin layer on a plate

1/4 cup kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

2 limes, juiced (plus extra lime wedges to garnish)

2 cups light Mexican beer

2 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons hot sauce (preferably a more vinegar based hot sauce such asTabasco)

1 teaspoon low sodium soy sauce

1/2 jalapeno, seeded and diced (optional)

freshly cracked black pepper

 

PREPARATION:

Dip the rims of two glasses into the honey. (you want only a very thin layer)

Place salt, paprika and cayenne (if using) onto a plate and stir together with a fork until combined. Finish rimming glasses with salt mixture, fill with ice and set aside.

Fill a large shaker partially with ice followed by the remaining ingredients, except for the jalapeno. Close and shake until well mixed. Divide mixture among the two prepared glasses and finish with lime wedges, black pepper and jalpaenos (if using). Serve.

Makes 2

 

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3.  Michelada with Umami

 

This version of the Michelada features the usual suspects of beer, lime juice and hot sauce, but it also has Maggi seasoning and Worcestershire sauce for umami flavor.

 

INGREDIENTS:

1 ouncefresh squeezed lime juice – this is roughly the juice of one medium sized lime

3 – 5 dashes of hot sauce – Valentina is great here but you can also useCholulaorTabasco

3 – 5 dashes Maggi seasoning

3 – 5 dashes Worchestershire sauce

Ice cold Mexican beer of your choice – Negro Modelo, Modelo Especial, Pacifico and Tecate are all great choices

 

PREPARATION:

If you want a salt rim, rub a lime wedge along the rim of your glass of choice and dip in a saucer of kosher salt to create the salt rim. Fill the glass with ice. Build the cocktail in the glass by pouring in the lime juice, hot sauce, Worchestershire sauce and Maggi seasoning. Top with beer to desired level. Stir gently and serve.

 

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4. Michelada with Clamato Juice

 

This Michelada recipe is made with Clamato (a drink made of tomato juice and clam juice), Maggi Sauce, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and ground chile de arbol.

 

INGREDIENTS:

1 corona beer

2 Mexican limes(or Key limes) juiced

1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce

tabasco sauce, to tase

pinch black pepper

ground chile pepper, to taste

salt, to taste

tomato juice or Clamato juice if available

For the beer mug:

ice cubes

tall beer mug or glass

salt

ground chile powder

1/2 lime

 

PREPARATION:

Mix some salt and ground chile powder in a plate. Using the 1/2 lime rim the glass/beer mug all around until well coated with the lime juice. Turn the glass/beer mug upside down and cover the rim with the chile salt mixture. Turn right side up and add the ice cubes. Pour the juice from the 2 limes into the glass/beer mug, add the worcestershire sauce,Tabasco, black pepper, ground chile powder, salt and tomato juice. Stir until all ingredients are well combined then pour in the beer, mix and taste. Adjust anything if necessary.

 

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5. Chile de Arbol Michelada

 

INGREDIENTS

1 good ice cold Mexican beer such as Modele, Pacifico, or Negra Modelo

fresh squeezed lime juice

Clamato juice

Maggi Sauce

Worcestershire sauce

ground chile de arbol

soy sauce

sea salt

For the beer mug:

ice cubes

tall beer mug or glass

salt

ground chile de arbol

lime

 

PREPARATION:

Same as above, but add the clamato, maggi, worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and ground chile de arbol.

 

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6. V8 Michelada

 

INGREDIENTS:

Mexican beer

fresh squeezed lime juice

salt

tomato juice (V8)

Mexican hot sauce

For the beer mug:

ice cubes

tall beer mug or glass

salt

ground paprika

1/2 lime

 

PREPARATION:

Same as above, but with V8 and paprika around the rim

 

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7. Dark Beer Michelada

 

This is an earthy Michelada that it’s made with dark Mexican beer instead of the usual light beer. It also has soy sauce and chipotle hot sauce for a true earthy flavor.

 

INGREDIENTS:

2  Limes

Coarse sea salt (for glass rim)

3/4 Cup chilled tomato juice

1 Teaspoon soy sauce

1 Teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 Teaspoon chipotle hot sauce (orTabasco)

4 Bottles dark Mexican beer

 

PREPARATION:

Cut one lime in quarters. Use one quarter to moisten the rims of four glasses

Roll rims of glasses in coarse sea salt to coat. Cut 4 thin horizontal slices from remaining lime half to garnish glasses. Set glasses aside.

In a small bowl, combine juice of limes (including the remainders from the sliced lime), tomato juice, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. Stir to mix.

Pour tomato mixture evenly into glasses. Top each glass with a bottle of dark Mexican beer and serve immediately.

 

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8.  Chili-Spiked Michelada

 

This deep red Michelada features chili powder, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce for a flavor that’s earthy and spicy all at the same time.

 

INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup kosher salt

3 tablespoons chili powder

4 limes, cut into wedges

4 (12-ounce) bottles beer

Hot sauce (recommended:Tabasco)

Worcestershire sauce

 

PREPARATION

Combine the salt and chili powder in a small bowl and transfer to a flat plate. Rub a lime wedge around the rim of each beer mug and dip it into the chili-salt to coat the rim.

Squeeze the juice of 4 lime wedges into each mug. Add a lime wedge to the mug and fill with ice.

Add 1 bottle of beer, a dash of hot sauce and a dash of Worcestershire sauce and serve immediately.

 

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Bloody Roman

 

I had to include this recipe for all the chefs out there. This takes the basic Michelada to a whole new level.  If you want to show off your culinary and mixology skills go for it, though it could set you back $100 for the ingredients.

 

INGREDIENTS

12 Castelvetrano or other mild green olives, pitted

3 (12-oz) bottles Beer (preferably Anchor Steam), cold

Roman Mix (recipe below)

12 oysters (preferably Kumamato or Kusshi), shucked, liquor reserved

 

PREPARATION

Place 2 olives in each of6 pintglasses. Pour half a bottle of beer into each glass and top with the Roman Mix, divided evenly among the glasses. Place 2 shucked oysters with their liquor in each glass and garnish with an additional olive, a serrano chile and a few chile threads.

 

Roman Mix:

3 lb Heirloom tomatoes, cored and chopped coarsely

1 tbsp Salt-packed capers, rinsed and chopped

2 Red Fresno chiles, seeded and chopped

1 Shallot, finely diced

2 tbsp Chopped pickled peppers (preferably Mama Lil’s)

2 tsp Asian fish sauce (preferably Red Boat)

1 tsp Cabernet vinegar

1 tsp Ground Aleppo pepper

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

 

PREPARATION:

Pass the tomatoes through a food mill set over a bowl and fitted with the fine grinding wheel. Add the capers, chiles, shallot, peppers, fish sauce, vinegar andAleppopepper, and stir well. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in the parsley.

 

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