Thursday, December 29, 2011

Willie’s Fresh Green Salsa
by Willie & Sandra Simmons





Ingredients:
6 medium cucumbers
8 tomatillos
4 avocados
1 red onion
1 bell pepper
1 bunch cilantro
4 fresh jalapeños,  seeded
Salt to taste
Juice of 1 lime

Here’s the story on how we came to know and love this salsa:
It was the week of Christmas 2009. We were at my parent’s house at Lake Travis, outside of Austin, TX. Bill and Linda Bux came over and brought with them a jar of Wrights of Texas Fresh Green Salsa as a gift to my parents. When they walked through the front door, I’m pretty sure there was a ray of sunlight shining on that jar. Now I love Bill and Linda but I could not wait to get rid of them that day. And it didn’t matter that they brought that salsa for my parents. I knew I was going to love it and eat it all gone! And I did have to share, but the four of us (Willie, Dad,  Cojo and I) schnarfed down every last drop of that salsa in 2 seconds flat.  Please don’t even think of looking up the word schnarf online because all of those definitions are totally wrong! Everyone (who grew up in my family) knows that to schnarf means to gobble down as quickly as possible so you can get more than anyone else.

After we licked our fingers, we all grabbed cell phones, land-line phones, and laptops to call Bill and Linda and find out where they got that salsa.

Fade to black.

Our world dimmed when we learned that the only place to get it was Houston.

Willie offered to drive (3 hours one way) to get more. I told him to get going! My parents said no. I didn’t think they could boss me around anymore once I hit 40.

I was wrong.
Everything else that happened that Christmas really pales in comparison to that salsa.

When Willie and I returned to Atlanta, he went to work on coming up with that salsa recipe.  Now Willie is a great cook and never uses recipes but honestly, I thought he had no hope. But then I tasted his results and this is as close as you can get to Wrights without going to Houston!

Here’s the story on why I’m making the salsa today:
I have this friend named Julie. I truly love her for many reasons but one of them is because she loves Willie’s and my cooking. And she’s just over-the-top about demonstrating that love! She gets loud and throws her hands and arms up in the air and laughs and smiles and exclaims and then she repeats the whole litany until we stop feeding her! Now who wouldn’t love to feed a person like that? So when it came time to think up a Christmas present for her, I quickly decided she would be the first ever and sole recipient of the Simmons Food of the Month Club! And true to form, when she received our fancy gift certificate in her email she got loud and threw her hands and arms up in the air and laughed and smiled and exclaimed and then she repeated the whole litany all though a string of text messages! See – she is amazing! This month, she is getting the following: Willie’s Fresh Green Salsa and Santitas Chips, Coconut Macaroons, My Famous Shortbread Cookies and Chewy Molasses Cookies. And I am having the time of my life photographing and otherwise documenting all of it! Seems more like a gift to me!

Instructions to make the salsa – did you forget what we were doing with all that story telling?:
You MUST have a food processor to make this recipe. And a very large bowl. NO, not that bowl. It needs to be larger. Huge!

1) Peel the cucumbers. Before you do, let’s talk about vegetable peelers. Are you afraid of them? I am. They hurt if they cut you. One time I cut clean through my thumbnail. Took weeks to heal! And it hurt!! I said ‘bloody hell’ a lot for a long time over that one! Willie, I mean Santa, put a new peeler in my stocking this Christmas (2011) and I was skeptical and a little ticked to be honest. Really Santa? Another way for me to cut myself? Thanks. I used the new peeler today. It peels very thinly so you can control how much to take off and the blades on both sides of the peeler are serrated so if you peel in a back and forth motion, you will be done lickety-split. Here’s the peeler. And I didn’t cut myself.

Now, slice one cucumber into 5 equal pieces and toss em in the food processor and turn it on and let it go until the cucumber is completely puréed.  Once that’s done, pour the purée in the very large bowl and then repeat with the rest of the cucumbers. Don’t try to put more than one cuke in the food processor. Just do it my way before you try it your own way, ok?

2) Remove the paper-like husk and wash the tomatillos. Cut them in half and put them in the food processor with the seeded jalapeños. Purée completely. Add to the very large bowl.
3) This is the hard part right here. Cut the avocados in half and take out the pit. Spoon the flesh into the food processor WITHOUT EATING ANY OF THE AVOCADO! Then purée it and add it to the very large bowl. Or you can save yourself the agony and buy a couple extra  avocados and take a break and schnarf them right down before proceeding.
4) Peel the red onion and cut the top and bottom off and then cut the onion in half and then each half into 4 equal pieces. Put them in the food processor which by the way is pretty messy by now. And if you haven’t spurted something green all over your white shirt by now, you’re not doing this right.
Take your bunch of cilantro and chop off the bottom third of the bunch and discard that. Then put the rest in the food processer and….purée and then add to the very large bowl.
5) Cut the flesh off of the seedy core of the bell pepper. Purée it. Add to the very large bowl.
6) If you need a new juicer – Santa also brought me this and it’s wonderful. I used it to juice my lime. You should juice yours now and add it to the VLB (very large bowl).
7) The trickiest part of the recipe comes as soon as you stir the contents of the VLB.  Because it’s time to taste and season it. Some of the veg you’ve added to your salsa can have a bitter edge and this will vary every time you make this salsa. Salt cuts the bitter and enhances the flavor. So at this point you will add salt, taste, add more salt, taste, etc. Stir well each time you add more salt. You will use a lot of teaspoons to taste the salsa during this process. I used 8 today. And you will probably add more salt than you think you should but it’s ok. And by the way, I would use the Kosher coarse salt. It’s wonderful. Whatever you do, just add the salt slowly, a three-finger pinch at a time. Be patient. You’ll know when you have it right.

8) Once you think you have it properly salted, go get a good tortilla chip. We love Santitas and I think they’re also the cheapest around! Get another teaspoon and put some salsa on the chip and eat it. Is it amazing? If not, add more salt.

9) I keep mason jars in my cabinet with my drinking glasses and I buy the jars and the tops at Walmart by the case. Only the wide-mouthed ones. We use the jars for drinking glasses and to hold votive candles and any other thing we think up on a daily basis. But we also use these jars frequently to give away the food we make. They make good looking containers with a raffia bow around the top. This recipe will make 3-quart jars of salsa and that includes all the salsa you eat while you’re tasting for proper seasoning. (P.S. I call them mason jars all the time. But they’re really Ball jars.)
OK! So that’s it!! I hope you will enjoy this raw, fresh salsa as much as we do! Let me know how it works out for you! xo, Sandra

6 comments:

  1. Looks good to me! You need my shipping address?

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  2. Great salsa! Thanks so much for this recipe. It's pretty close to Wrights- although next time I may reserve some of the veggies so that the consistency is a bit chunky instead of all puree. Any other edits or suggestions for improvements or modifications since you originally posted?

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    1. No other edits but I love your suggestion and will try it next time!

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  3. I can't tell you how many times I've used this recipe. The only improvement I've found is using citric acid makes it a little tangier! And I DO live in Houston where I can buy the salsa but at $7 jar I prefer to make my own!

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    1. Jamie Lynn, how nice to hear this! Thanks for talking the time to write! Now tell me all about citric acid - how much do you use?

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