Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hatch Pico de Gallo and Salsa

Whoo Hoo!  Fiesta!  Its Hatch Chile season!

Now is the time of year when an avalanche of green chiles come pouring out of New Mexico.  Ever hear of the Hatch Chile Festival?  It is fixing to happen this coming weekend, Hatch Chile Festival.  That means its harvest season in Hatch, New Mexico.  For Chileheads this is the quintessential season of eating fire.  Just about every kind of Chile imaginable is grown in Hatch, but the star of the show is called a Big Jim, which is a large green Anaheim Chile.  The big burlap sacks stuffed with Big Jim's get shipped off to every corner of the world, and, as always, I will snatch my fair share, wholeheartedly...
We'll start with a fresh concoction, Pico de Gallo, or Beak of the Rooster.  I'll dice a nice red Tomato, a large green Big Jim, bias slice some Scallions and chop some Cilantro, and mix them well in a bowl with a shake of Sea Salt.  Let the mixture sit and marinate together, at room temperature, for an hour or so to let the flavors mingle.  Pico de Gallo is good with anything, even if it is just chips.
Next we'll make a Hatch Chile Salsa.  I have a few pounds of Roma Tomatoes which are good for stewing, make good salsa.  Dice them and add them to a stew pot.
Then I'll dice about half a pound of the Big Jim Chiles, some are turning red.  When Chiles ripen their vitamin content changes.  Green Chiles are rich in Vitamin C, and Red Chiles are rich in Beta Carotene.  When you catch them mid-change you are getting a good shot of both Vitamin C and Beta Carotene.  Then flavors are a bit different, and that augments the flavor of the salsa.
Then we'll dice half a white Onion, and add the Chiles and Onions to the stew pot.  For me, the Big Jim Chiles don't have enough heat, so I will add some dehydrated Cayenne Chiles, cut in thin slices, to the stew pot as well.  We'll season the Salsa with Sea Salt, and let it begin to simmer.  When I am making a Salsa I usually add both fresh Tomatoes and canned Tomatoes.  The reason for this is nutrients.  Fresh, in season, Tomatoes are always nomlishious, but there is something to be added by using canned Tomatoes, and its not the taste of the can.  When Tomatoes are canned and processed the Vitamin C is converted into Lycopene, and it is the heat and pressure in the canning process that makes the Lycopene bio-available, or able to be utilized by our digestive process.  So by using fresh and canned Tomatoes we can widen the range of nutrition in the Salsa.  I'll take a 14 ounce can of whole Tomatoes, give them a ride in the food processor, and then dump them into the stew pot.  At this point re-season the Salsa with Sea Salt, and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer it down to the consistency that you like.  I like thick Salsa, so I'll simmer most of the water out of the Salsa.
When the consistency is right remove the stew pot from the heat and let cool for a while.  Then I usually store the Salsa in one of those plastic Zip containers and refrigerate it.  This batch produced about 5 cups of Salsa, which will last a couple 'o three days.  I eat Salsa with everything...

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