Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Salsa Borracha: Drunk Salsa!

There's something about salsa-slathered food and beer... it's a perfect combination. So, why not put beer in the salsa? Try this recipe from The Great Salsa Book:
Salsa Borracha

3 ounces dried pasilla chiles (12-15), seeded and stemmed
4 tablespoons diced white onions
1 1/2 teaspoons virgin olive oil
1 1/4 cups (1 bottle) dark beer, such as Negra Modelo
2 cloves roasted garlic
3 Roma tomatoes, blackened
1/2 teaspoon toasted ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon toasted ground oregano
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces Queso Anejo or other dry-aged goat cheese, grated

Toast the chiles and rehydrate them in 2 cups of warm water (page 144). Drain the chiles, reserving 1/2 cup of the water. Devein the chiles and transfer to a blender. If it is not bitter, add the reserved chile water; otherwise, add 1/2 cup plain water. Sauté the onion in the oil for 5 minutes over medium heat, and add to the chiles. Add the garlic, tomatoes, cumin, oregano, salt, and beer, and blend until puréed. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle the cheese over the top.

Note: In Spanish, borracha means "drunk"; this recipe owes its titel to the inclusion of a bottle of beer. True pasilla chiles are dried chilaca chiles. Fresh poblanos are oftenly mistakenly labeled as pasillas, so double-check before buying.

Serving suggestions: With grilled beef or lamb
Yield: About 3 cups.
Heat: 4-5.

Oooo, tasty. The cheese, as you can guess, is optional; by "optional," I of course mean that you may choose to substitute another cheese to sprinkle on top of your salsa. You do not have the option of not using cheese here at Take One Cookbook. We are pro-cheese, and pretty snotty about it.

You may wonder, "Where the heck am I going to find pasilla chiles?" Well, dear friends, if you can't find them at your local market, get yourself over to TheSpiceHouse.Com. Please, remember the "the"; if you drop it, I can not be held accountable for what manner of not-safe-for-work site you might find yourself on. Anyway! The Spice House is a great store in Milwaukee, where Chefly Husband first took a cooking course. Their spices and herbs are amazing -- fresh, flavorful, transforming. And, yeah, they stock pasillas. Dried chiles from The Spice House tend to be supple as raisins. Mmmm. Delicious.

You could also check your local Penzey's... did I mention that The Spice House was founded by ... yup! Ruth and Bill Penzey. The spice empire all started in Milwaukee, with The Spice House.

I could go on gushing, and emphasizing the the -- can you tell someone I care about was deeply embarrassed once by forgetting the the in front of that someone's employer? -- but instead, I'll say: this recipe is worth the effort. Yes, it's fussy. Yes, there's lots of steps. Yes, you're working with those peppers a whole heck of a lot.

It's worth it. Great, rich, layered flavor.

And, if you find yourself with 5 extra bottles of Negra Modelo after you bought a 6-pack to make the recipe, well... that's just a bonus, isn't it?

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