Today is game day. The AFC Championship game. When my beloved Colts take on the upstart Jets and battle for a berth in the Super Bowl.
This, to me, would normally be a chicken wings, pizza and beer day. But since I am trying to chisel some of the flab off my fat ass, I am planning something equally as tasty but not nearly as ass-widening as wings and pizza.
I make some killer salsa. Fat free, full of flavor and loaded with all those antioxidants that kick the shit out of cancer. Paired with a few chips (this stuff is so good we scoop a boatload of salsa into every Tostitos scoop) it is much better for my thighs than deep fried chicken rolled in butter and hot sauce.
Allow me to illustrate:
First I roast some Anaheim peppers and some tomatillos, which look like little green tomatoes, and they are in the same family as tomatoes, but are actually a type of gooseberry. I shit you not. They are covered in this sticky outer husk that is easy to peel off, and you want to give them a little rinse before roasting. I put the peppers and the tomatillos in the oven on broil for a few minutes until the skins darken and they become soft.
Then I dice a green pepper and some cilantro leaves. I love cilantro. I love the scent and the fresh taste. But some people can’t tolerate cilantro, it can make them gag. I read somewhere that it’s in your DNA code whether you will be a fan of cilantro or not. I don’t know if that’s a scientific fact, but I love it and I warn people of any recipe I put it in just in case they are in the anti-cilantro camp. And if you live in the no-cilantro camp, by all means omit it.
Next I chop up a couple of shallots and a couple of cloves of garlic. Shallots are like little baby red onions and to me, they are sweeter and have a milder flavor than their full-sized cousins. There’s a ton of flavor going on in this salsa, so I like to use shallots. You can just rough chop the shallots and garlic (be sure to peel off the inedible skins from both. That papery stuff is not good eats.) Be quick about it if you are like me and your eyes tend to get weepy from a strong onion aroma.
Then I slice a fresh jalapeno. Now, if you like heat, leave in the ribs and the seeds. If you do not, take them out. I leave some in cause I like a little heat. Be sure to scrub your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water when you are done chopping any hot pepper because, hear this voice of experience, you will feel the pain of a thousand flaming spears in your eyes if you touch them before getting the capsaicin, the compound that makes peppers hot, off your hands.
And Ceiling Cat and Baby Jeebus help you if you use the bathroom before scrubbing.
Next step is to take the tomatillos and the peppers out of the oven, let them cool a few minutes, and remove the stems and the skin from the peppers. It peels right off after roasting. I leave in some of the seeds on the Anaheims cause I like their mild heat, but I take out the biggest cluster cause that’s just too many seeds. Toss all it into the food processor with the shallots, garlic, green bell peppers and cilantro. Send the whole thing around for a quick whirl on puree. I don’t like it too soupy, so I only puree it for about five seconds.
Now, open a can of fire-roasted, diced tomatoes. The fire-roasting adds amazing flavor and if you get them already diced you have saved yourself a step. Could you fire-roast your own tomatoes? Sure. But the canned is really good and available all year round and I’d like to see the game sometime today so I use the can.
The dressing for this salsa is fresh lime juice. Don’t use the sweetened Rose’s lime juice intended to make margaritas. Just slice open one fresh lime and squeeze it over the salsa. The trick to getting citrus fruit to give up the juice is to roll it around applying gentle pressure before you slice it. Works like a charm. Add a dash of salt and mix it all up. Taste it.
Too hot? Add more tomatoes or bell peppers to dilute it. And remember next time to remove more seeds and veins from the hot peppers or omit the jalapeno all together. Not enough heat? You could mince up another jalapeno, or if you are very daring, mince up a Scotch bonnet (a.k.a. habenero) and you will set your mouth on fire.
By the way, the best way to cool a tongue flaming from capsaicin? Milk. Seriously. There’s a scientific explanation of enzymes binding with proteins or whatever, but trust me, it works. Beer, water or soda willonly make matters worse.
Next up? My honey-bourbon chicken is for what I hope to be a victory dinner for the Colts.