The Mexican BBQ Party Series: Salsa

Boy, do I wish I had a rich husband so I could just open a catering business and not really worry whether I was making money or not. Wouldn't that just make life simple? Yea, it would. But since that's not the case these days, I carry on as a consultant and pretend that I'm a real, live chef every chance I get. I have a fellow consultant friend (Jason) who does the same thing. So sometimes, as you will see in previous posts, Jason and I get together and cook up a feast for friends (and pretend like we are professional caterers).

When a good friend of ours (my cousin with a professional quality kitchen) asked us over for a dinner party, we gladly jumped on the chance to cook in a kitchen bigger than my whole baby studio apartment. BBQ had to be the theme for the party due to the beautiful back patio area we were working with. So we came up with Mexican BBQ theme. Because I don't want to overwhelm you all with a million  recipes in one blog post, I've decided to split this up into a series of "Mexican BBQ Party" posts. The first? Salsas of course!! Jason and I both made a salsa, and worked together to create an absolutely delicious guacamole. Here they are!

Roasted Tomato and Tomatillo Salsa

4 vine ripe tomatoes
2 jalapenos
8 tomatillos (remove husks, rinse and quarter)
3/4 white onion
5 cloves garlic (rough chop)
1 1/2 limes (juice and zest of only 1)
1/2 bunch cilantro leaves (about 1 cup)
sea salt
vegetable oil

Turn on broiler in oven, situating oven rack about 8 inches from broiler. Remove stems from the tomatoes and slice in half. Place on a baking sheet with whole jalapenos and sprinkle generously with sea salt. Put baking sheet in oven. Turning tomatoes and jalapenos a couple of times to char all sides, they should be under the broiler for about 10 minutes total. Remove and let cool. Depending on your level of heat tolerance, remove the seeds and veins from the jalapenos. (I leave them in because I like a spicy salsa)

While tomatoes are in the broiler, heat vegetable oil over medium heat and add 1/2 the onion (save 1/4 for later). Add salt to the onion and let cook for about 5 minutes. Remove husks from tomatillos, and wash well. Then add 3 cloves of garlic and the tomatillos to the onions. Add salt, and cook for about 5 more minutes. 

In a large bowl with an immersion blender, or in 2 batches in a food processor, add cilantro, 1/4 fresh onion, 2 cloves fresh garlic, lime juice and zest, tomatillos, jalapenos and tomatoes, and blend all ingredients together to a smooth consistency. Chill in fridge until salsa is no longer warm (I don't like warm salsa).

This salsa has a great flavor because you are roasting some ingredients, sauteing some to release the oils, and using some bright, fresh flavors. It all balances out perfectly for a flavorful salsa. Enjoy!

Salsa Verde

8-10 fresh tomatillos
3/4 cup cilantro (chopped)
1 charred poblano (chopped, remove seeds if you prefer less hot)
1 or 1/2 jalepeno (diced,  remove seeds if you prefer less hot)
4-5 cloves garlic (minced)
1/2 large yellow onion (chopped)
1/2 lime (juiced)
2 tsp salt (or salt to taste)
2 tbs vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups chicken stock

Everyone should really have a good salsa verde recipe up their sleeve, and this should be the one. Adding the charred poblano pepper makes a world of a difference. This salsa does really well frozen so make sure to freeze whatever is leftover! Recipe complements of Jason!

Saute onion, garlic and jalapeno in vegetable oil on med low heat until onions are translucent (do not let garlic burn)! Char poblano pepper on grill or open flame, rough chop and set aside. 

Remove husks from tomatillos, and wash well. Cut tomatillos into quarters, saute with onions, garlic and jalapeno until just browned or bubbling. Add poblanos and chicken stock, stirring well.  

Use an immersion blender, or regular blender to blend sauce to desired consistency (I prefer smooth on this salsa). Return to pot, bring to a simmer and stir for 10 - 15 minutes. Once sauce has thickened (whatever amount desired), turn off heat and add lime juice and cilantro (avoid cooking cilantro or it tends to get bitter). 

Serve with any Mexican feast as it goes particularly well with chicken, pork or fish.

Goat Cheese and Roasted Poblano Guacamole

4 soft (but not too soft) avocados (remove skin and pit)
1 charred poblano pepper (remove seeds, skin and stem)
3/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
1 1/2 limes (juice)
1 cup cilantro leaves (rough chop)
3 cloves garlic (minced finely)
1 tbsp salt

Combine all ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl and stir together with a metal spoon until creamy, but still has lumps for texture.

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