There is absolutely no doubt about it, this family loves Salsa.
Not so much the dance, but the condiment. We make it at least once a week. We experiment with different types of chiles, and add different ingredients. No matter what you do, you can’t mess with tradition. Sure, you can make something great out of new additions, or of course, by adding bacon, but that should be considered “lazy” or “cheating” b/c it usually makes everything wonderful.
[this little piggy went to the market, and then to my fridge]
But, really, you have to stick with something to relate to your own tastebuds, and those of others.
Cheffery sent an email before we left for San Diego, saying I should try to be in this competition called SF Food Wars with one of my Salsas. I thought that would be fun, so I sent a quick recipe and left for a week. By the time I returned, I found my recipe was chosen to be in the battle, and all the tickets were sold out! Yikes, I better step it up.
Once I saw this was the real thing, I immediately thought of my favorite recipe, one that my grandmother had inadvertently taught me, just by me hanging out in her kitchen so many summers past. She called it “Salsa Veraniega Sabrosa”, which translates to “Tasty, Summery Salsa”. I love it so much.
I thought this would be a great opportunity to teach some of the young trainees at Old Skool Cafe how to make something spectacular. So, after my test batch on Monday night, I decided I’d show a small handful of them the family recipe on Friday. They ended up making a little more than 5 Quarts, all of which was used for the competition. We were able to put some in jars and sell a few to raise money to help with renovations for Old Skool Cafe!
It turns out, the people in attendance at the Food War liked the salsa. We didn’t take into account the people who came back for third and fourth helpings of the goodness. They didn’t leave much for the latecomers. We ended up running out of salsa, so some people couldn’t taste it, therefore probably didn’t vote for us! The good news: We did win an honorable mention award, in the Peoples’ Choice category- I was happy with that, since 1st place went to another grandmother’s recipe, also from down in Mexico.
There are lots of great prizes and goodies we have been already using. Lisa and I had tons of fun, but I don’t think we’d be able to handle a different kind of Food War- like 300 tastings of Macaroni and Cheese. Maybe, but who has the time? I say though, there is always time for gallons/liters of Salsa!
Here’s some of the low down on the recipe, but of course there are a couple little things we can’t share since, well you know, we might compete against you someday…
Do me a favor, don’t over-share this, or else I promise you’ll be haunted by the nagging of 1,000 Mexican Grandmothers, which may seem cool at first, but it just gets really loud.
At the core, it is a broiled vegetable salsa. Take 10-12 tomatillos, husks removed, your choice of 5-7 chiles (I prefer Serranos over Jalapeños for this one), a few Poblanos, depending on the size, 2-3 cloves of garlic, and a purple bell pepper- blacken all of those on a baking sheet under high heat for five minutes on each side. While those are gettin craaaazy delicious in the oven, dice your favorite yellow onion and sauté it in a bit of light oil. (most people prefer raw onions, but I HATE them, and the aftertaste won’t go away unless you soak or cook them…)
When the stuff in the oven is done, put the Tomatillos in the blender or processor to cool a bit. Take the stems and seeds out of, and skin off the Poblanos and Bell Pepper. Take off the stems of the Serranos, and take out as many seeds as you wish, for whichever level of spice you love. Add as much Cilantro as you prefer (I use 1/4 of a bunch, salt (about 4 T), lime, 2-3 t cumin, and 1/3 bunch fresh Mexican Oregano leaves. If you want more onion flavor, also add 1/4 of a RED onion to the mix. Put your fully sweated yellow onions (makes it sound unappetizing, I know) on top of everything, blend until mostly smooth. When done, add a couple kisses of Red Wine Vinegar on top, and fold it in there. You just made 5 or 6 cups of green perfection. You’re done.
Try the salsa while it’s still warm, you’ll notice different, subtle, and lovely flavors than you will after you let it cool in the fridge overnight. Stir it well before serving, and enjoy with loved ones- always a key ingredient when enjoying Estela’s cooking. If you can’t find any loved ones, come over.