It’s the Monday before the Sunday where the world, or least the American part of it, ends. Temporarily. Sunday is the Super Bowl and the biggest day of the year for finger food. Billion of chips, millions upon millions of chicken wings, tanker truck loads of chili — all that and more will be consumed as people are glued to both the game and those commercials.
I have posted a spicy mango salsa before. Here’s an updated version with a few more ingredients, including diced apples to increase the fruitiness. The striking fruit tones here provide the perfect contrast for the heat of wings, nachos and chili.
Just to let you know, during the rest of this week, I’ll post some updates of other Super Bowl favorite recipes:
- Tuesday: Mr. Piggy’s Perfect Babyback Ribs
- Wednesday: Super Chili Nachos
- Thursday: Two Crab Cakes
- Friday: The Best Real Onion Dip
Now, on to salsa.
A chilled fruit salsa is a bright match for stove-hot chili or nachos. This complementary role is achieved without blandness: there is heat in this salsa and it’s appropriately spicy to provide contrast for all the potential sources of heat on your table.
I’ve made this salsa many times and have refined this recipe so that it is quick and easy to make, yet utterly delicious. In the ingredients below, you see I specify “2” of everything, which makes for each preparation. The last ingredient, the jalapenos, is the one exception. I prefer the heat of just one jalapeno but you may want two. And, as with any salsa, some last minute adjustment of heat, of lime or lemon juice, or the sugar may be needed given the sweetness of the fruit. Truthfully, a little sugar can help mute the heat if you have bravely gone on to 2 jalapenos [I warned you!].
If you haven’t worked with mangos before, it’s simple. Just peel and cut off the meat. That “big” fruit has a big core, so you harvest relatively little meat from each mango. Don’t try to cut into that core. If you are pressing with your knife, you’ll be pressing with your teeth, the knife might slip, finger pieces might be added to the bowl. Bad salsa. Definitely bad.
One word of warning from my lawyer: these are jalapenos so be careful. You probably think the “warnings” about hot peppers are over done. They aren’t. Wearing rubber gloves is a good idea. Avoiding anything near you eye is important. When I a batch once, I avoided touching my eye completely and properly. But I did rub my brow once, then went to exercise, sweated, and had to flush my eye with cold water. Please be careful.
Feel free to improvise with this recipe. You can add cilantro or other spices. I like this version which has fewer of the “usual” ingredients and gives you a distinctly “new” flavor experience.
Brian’s New Mango Salsa
Servings: enough for 6-8 people as a side dish
- 2 mangos, the meat cut into medium dice
- 2 bananas, cut into ¼ inch rounds
- 2 shallots, cut into medium dice
- 2 limes, juiced
- 2 lemons, juiced
- 2 sweet apples, diced.
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 pinches of salt
- 1 jalapeno, diced with seeds and membrane removed, but two if you want
- Garnishes: sliced cilantro, scallions, …
Place the diced mango in a bowl, then add the bananas and shallots. Pour in the lime and lemon juices and stir immediately. The lime juice will help keep the bananas from turning brown. Combine in the diced apples. Add the sugar, vinegar, and salt and stir. Then add the jalapeno. Stir to mix, then set aside for five minutes. Sample the mixture and adjust the flavor to your taste. You may want more lime juice, sugar, salt, or even vinegar. Over the next hour the sugar will begin to draw plenty of liquid from the fruit.
Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.
Source: Brian O’Rourke
In the coming weeks, leading up to the Super Bowl, there will be chips and salsa aplenty. You can treat yourself, and any family or friends, to a salsa combination you almost surely have never had before. Here pecans and chipotles merge for a slow-building heat. This recipe, from Tacos, Tortas, and Tamales by Roberto Santibanez, is said to be ideal for tacos or simple tortas. I think it’s a great chips salsa because of the surprising flavor combination. You’ll dip that chip, have it snap in your mouth, and then wonder just what it is that is now filling your mouth with such substance.
The recipe calls for chipotle mora chiles, pictured above. They are small and purple-red in color. You should be able to find them in a Mexican market. Of course, your chili of choice can be substituted to give you a different flavor experience. If you are Googling, you’ll see some different discussions about chipotles, moras, and chipotle moras. If possible get some professional assistance. The color is the key.
You can make this salsa up to 5 days in advance, refrigerate, and then bring to room temperature before serving.
Yield: 1 cup
- 3 dried chipotle mora chiles [small, purplish-red], whipped clean and stemmed
- ½ cup pecans, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
- ½ cup finely chopped white onion
- 1 medium garlic clove, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat a dry small pan over medium-low heat and toast the chiles, turning them over occasionally, until they have puffed up and blistered in spots, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer them to a blender along with ½ cup of water.
Preheat the oven to 350⁰F and toast the pecans in one layer on a baking sheet, shaking once or twice, until they are two shades darker and very fragrant, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer them to a blender. Blend the mixture to form a slightly chunky puree, gradually adding more water if necessary to blend.
Wipe the small pan clean, add the oil and set the pan over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the onion and garlic and cook just until the onion is translucent and soft, about 2 minutes. Add the blended mixture to the pan, then pour 1 tablespoon of water into the blender to loosen the remaining puree and pour it into the pan.
Add the salt and let the mixture come to a strong simmer, stirring constantly, then turn off the heat. Let the salsa cool, then season it to taste with more salt.
Source: Tacos, Tortas, and Tamales by Roberto Santibanez