Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Cinco de Mayo Salsas

Cinco de Mayo is Spanish and, it means the fifth of May.

Cinco de Mayo is not celebrated in all parts of Mexico. It is celebrated in the Mexican state of Puebla (130 miles southeast of Mexico City) and some other small parts of Mexico.  Cinco de Mayo (the 5th of May) is a celebration of a great battle won at great odd against the French army in Puebla back in the 1500’s.

Interestingly enough, it is celebrated heavily in the United States and other countries. In the United States, it is celebrated by Mexicans and non-Mexicans alike. They celebrate the culture, customs, and traditions of Mexico with emphasis on food and drink along with their culture.  We Americans need little excuse to celebrate. 

So in celebration of celebrating, I’m going to share a few simple Mexican recipes with you.  Like your Puerto Rican culture, the Mexican culture uses many sauces to add flavor to their dishes.  I’ll share some very simple salsas with you today.  It is not just for dipping.  Use it as a condiment for flavoring meat, sandwiches, wraps (tortillas), tacos or other Mexican dishes.

Super Simple Roasted Salsa 

This one is for when you have the grill out and has a grilled char taste to it. 

6 large red ripe tomatoes
1 medium onion
3 jalapenos (cut if you don't like heat and make sure to deseed)
4 garlic cloves

Char the ingredients.   Light a charcoal fire and let the coals burn until they are covered with gray ash; position the grill grate and let it heat for a couple of minutes. Lay on the tomatoes, onion halves, jalapenos and garlic. (To keep the garlic from dropping through and to make cleanup easy, I typically lay one of those perforated grill pans on the grill grates, heat it up, then lay on the vegetables.)  Grill the ingredients, turning occasionally, until they are well charred—about 10 minutes for the garlic, 15 minutes for the chilies and 20 minutes for the tomatoes and onions.  As they are done remove the ingredients to a rimmed baking sheet.  Let cool. Peel the garlic.  If you wish, you can pull the charred skins off the tomatoes.

Finish the salsa.   In a food processor, combine the garlic and chilies.  Pulse until coarsely pureed.  Add the tomatoes and any juices that have collected on the baking sheet, and pulse until roughly chopped.  Chop the charred onion and place in a bowl.  Stir in the tomato mixture, along with a little water (usually about 2 tablespoons), to give the salsa an easily spoonable consistency.  Taste and season with salt, usually about 1 teaspoon.
Mexican Salsa

1/2 medium white onion
1 small jalapeno chili, stemmed, seeded (if you want to cut the heat)
6 large red ripe tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Chop your onion, chili, tomatoes, and cilantro.  Scoop the onion into a strainer, rinse under cold tap water (this takes the bite out of the onion), shake off the excess and transfer to a food processor.  Add the jalapeno, tomatoes, cilantro and lime.  I like to put mine in the food processor so it is not chunky.  If you like your chunky, chop by hand and stir well, taste and season with salt, usually about 1/2 teaspoon.  Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.  Give it some time to marry and the flavors to combine. 

You do not have to use ripe tomatoes.  You can use those canned tomatoes you put up last summer also.  

I'll share more Mexican recipes in the next week.  

Be happy and may God bless you and yours. 

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