Saturday, September 24, 2011

SALSA - Ranchera Gringo

Salsa is one of the best side dishes serve with both Southwest Cuisine or Tex-Mex. It has an influence that developed from the native Americans, the Spanish and the Gringo. Often Salsa is thought of Mexican Cuisine although it is found throughout Latin American in many different forms. The word Salsa in Spanish means (sauce) while in Latin, it means (salty).  Early Salsa was made using mortar, pestle and tamis (pronounced "tammy") long before the modern blenders.

* 6 tomatoes, chopped Roma
* 4 garlic cloves, minced
* 2 seeded and minced jalapenos
* 1 chipote pepper seeded diced:
* 1 red bell pepper, fine dice
* 1/2 red onion, fine chopped
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 lime, juiced
* Orange Zest, 1/2 teaspoon or less
* cilantro leaf, no more than five leaves
* Sweet Basil about 4 leaves fresh or 1/2 teaspoon ground
* Add black pepper about 1 teaspoon
* Salt to taste about 1 or 2 teaspoons. 

In a bowl, combine all ingredients and blend together. You can use a blender to mix everything but the tomatoes. Caution: Do not use to much Zest. 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon to keep folks guesting. You should wonder about the taste but not know it is there. Also, Cilantro over powers flavors. Use very little. If you want more green leaf, use Parsley. When using parsley, chop enough to make about one heaping full tablespoon. After blending everything together, chop tomatoes very fine and mix together.

Refrigerate for up to 12 hours for flavor infusion. Before serving, be sure to stir thoroughly. Serve with tortilla chips.

Mistakes people do with salsa: Tomatoes cut into large sections is not Salsa, it's Pico de gallo. Puree like water is just not right either, although many Mexican Restaurants serve it that way. A good Salsa should be a thicker blend.

Since Salsa and Guacamole are non-cooked, it is extremely important to ensure that sanitation of hands and service ware are clean and free of bacteria. Approximately 5,000 people per year die in the United States as a result of food poisoning according to the CDC.  3 percent of all food poisoning reported, is the result from Salsa served in restaurants either from contamination when preparing these foods or improper storage.

Commercially packaged Salsa can last up to two years but needs to be refrigerated after opening.  When canning, it should be stored in a dry, dark area with cool temperatures between 54 degrees to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Tamis or sieves as well as colanders are indispensable either for straining purees, forcemeats, gravies and broths, for draining purposes.

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