Salsas verde.

Cover Photo : by PhotoMIX Company from Pexels

That’s right. Not just ONE salsa verde but MANY salsas verde (or would that be salsa verdes?)

This all started with a papalo based recipe involving baked potatoes. I feel that I must mention again my love for the quelites (papalo in particular) and all the wild green leafies in general. The Irishman in me has a fondness for potato so this recipe is the best of two worlds.

Papas con carne y pápalo (literal translation Potato with meat and papalo)

I’d probably go with……..

Jacket Potatoes with Bolognese sauce (See Notes)(1) and Papalo Salsa Verde

Ingredients

  • 2 starchy white potatoes (use a sebago or desiree)
  • 2 bunches papalo.
  • 200 ml olive oil.
  • 2 cloves garlic.
  • 500 g onion.
  • 150 g ground beef
  • 50 g tomato.
  • 20 ml red wine.
  • 20 g Parmesan cheese.
  • Beef stock (as needed – you wont need much – 100ml maybe – certainly no more than a cup/250ml)

Prick the potatoes several times with a fork, this will allow steam to escape as the potato cooks and prevent the skin from splitting/bursting. Rub lightly with oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake potatoes for an hour or so at 220°C (200°C fan forced oven = 430°F) or until you can easily pierce the potato with a knife. Allow to cool a little before the next step. Scoop out the flesh using a spoon, leaving about 1/2cm (1/3″) layer of potato attached to the skin. Place the scooped out potato in a mixing bowl and mash with a fork until fairly smooth (dont be pedantic about it though). Set the skins aside on a tray to be filled later.

These skins have been baked (or grilled) again. They have crispy brown edges.
You don’t need to do this for this recipe but doing this will create a more sturdy skin.

Blend the papalo leaves, the oil, half the onion and a clove of garlic (or grind in a molcajete). You want a chunky pesto type (2) salsa not a smooth liquid. This is similar in style to the Italian salsa verde. The Google Translation of the above recipe calls for the frying of the salsa before it is added to the potato in the mixing bowl, The frying of salsas (except for the fresh ones of course i.e. pico de gallo) is a vital step in many Mexican chile “sauces”. You cook the salsa until it is a couple of shades darker. This amalgamates all the disparate flavours and will remove the “rawness” of the onion and garlic (it will also make them sweeter). If you avoid this step the recipe will still work and have a “fresher” (although not necessarily deeper) flavour. Typically though papalo is not cooked (3). Add to the potato in the mixing bowl

Fry the rest of the onion and garlic until fragrant. Add the beef mince and brown. Add the wine, tomato (and beef stock if using/needed) and simmer until the liquid evaporates. You want this mixture to be fairly dry. Adjust the seasoning and add salt if needed (do it here if you are using the beef stock as the stock may be salty enough). Allow to cool and add to the potato in the mixing bowl.

Mix well

Scoop the filling back into the potato skins, sprinkle the cheese over the top and bake in a hot oven until golden and melty.

NOTES

  1. Bolognese sauce is a meat-based sauce in Italian cuisine, typical of the city of Bologna. Genuine ragù alla bolognese is a slow cooked meat-based sauce, and its preparation involves several techniques, including sweating, sautéing and braising. Ingredients include a characteristic sofrito of onion, celery and carrot, different types of minced or finely chopped beef, often alongside small amounts of fatty pork.
  2. Pesto, or pesto alla genovese, is a sauce originating in Genoa, the capital city of Liguria, Italy. It traditionally consists of crushed garlic, European pine nuts, coarse salt, basil leaves, and hard cheese such as Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Sardo, all blended with olive oil.
  3. another option is to leave the papalo salsa out of the potato stuffing and spoon the fresh oily salsa over the hot potato after the cheese has been melted on it.

The salsa used reminds me of a number of fresh green blends from around the World

Italian Salsa Verde
1 cup fresh basil (15g)
1 cup fresh parsley (15g)
1 clove garlic peeled
1 tablespoon capers
4 cornichons (mini gherkins) (around 2 tablespoon chopped)
3 anchovies
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil (80ml)

Optional

  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes chilli flakes
  • Zest and juice of half a lemon
  • 1 hard boiled egg

Method

  1. Place all ingredients except the olive oil and lemon juice on a cutting board in a small pile. Finely chop everything together until it’s finely chopped and combined.
  2. Add the chopped mixture to a small bowl and add the olive oil and lemon juice, stir to combine and serve.

Spanish Mojo Verde

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch cilantro, leaves and tender stems only
  • 4 large cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 jalapeno (you could use any mild green chile – you do want some heat but)
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt, to taste

Method

In the bowl of a food processor or blender, combine the cilantro, garlic, lime juice, cumin, jalapeno, white wine vinegar, and olive oil. Process until well-combined. Season generously with kosher salt and serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate until ready to use. This one is a fairly smooth sauce.

French Sauce Verte
Ingredients

  • 40g parsley
  • 1 tablespoon onion, chopped
  • 45g capers
  • 25g tinned anchovy fillets, drained
  • 1-2 garlic clove s
  • 2 small cornichon
  • small boiled potato (or 1 slice white bread, softened in water and drained)
  • 125ml olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon wine vinegar
  • salt to taste

METHOD

  1. Chop together very finely – First parsley, then onion, capers, anchovies, garlic and gherkins. Start with the parsley, using a sharp knife, then add each ingredient, one at a time, until you have a very fine green blend.
  2. Add potato or bread and mix until a coarse, dry, green paste is formed.
  3. Place mixture in a bowl and work in just enough oil (about 1 teaspoon) to form a slightly thinner but smooth paste. Add salt and pepper. Continue to add the remaining oil slowly, mixing constantly until paste is smooth.
  4. Add vinegar and mix thoroughly.

There are also creamy versions using either mayonnaise or crème fraîche as an ingredient

Mayonnaise Version
• 2 Cups (5 dl)* organic mayonnaise (homemade if you have the time)
• 6 Tablespoons finely chopped spinach
• 4 Tablespoons finely chopped parsley
• 2 Tablespoons finely chopped dill
• 2 Tablespoons finely chopped chives
• Tablespoon finely chopped tarragon*
• Cloves of garlic, finely chopped
• Tablespoons lemon juice
• Salt & Pepper

  1. Gently mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper, and leave in the fridge for at least one hour before serving.

*NOTES

  • (dl) or decilitre is a unit of measurement that takes me back to my apprenticeship. Cooking was taught in the classical French style and in our primary text, the PPC (Practical Professional Cookery) all the recipes were in French with their English translations beside and they used the decilitre as the main unit of measurement : a metric unit of capacity, equal to one tenth of a litre. 1dl = 100ml = 3.3814 floz
  • Other herbs (i.e. mint, pericon, lemon verbena) could be used.

Crème Fraîche Version

  • 2 tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. fresh chives, chopped
  • 6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • tsp. sea salt
  • tsp. crème fraîche or sour cream

Method

To make the sauce, place the chopped herbs, olive oil and lemon juice in your blender and blend until thoroughly emulsified. Remove to a small bowl. Add the cumin. Season with salt and pepper. The sauce should be thin enough to run off a spoon in a drizzle. If it’s too thick, add a little more olive oil.

Argentinian Chimichurri

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley (go with the flat leaf variety)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic , finely chopped or minced (add more or less depending on your love of garlic)
  • 2 small fresh red chiles , or 1 red chile (also fresh), deseeded and finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon finely chopped chile)(red chile flakes could also be used)
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt, al gusto (to taste)
  • pepper, al gusto

Method
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes to release all of the flavours into the oil before using. Ideally, let it sit for more than 2 hours, if time allows.

the whole process can be done in the blender. Just add all the ingredients and pulse until you have a texture you like.

NOTES

  • Chimichurri can be prepared earlier than needed, and refrigerated for 24 hours, if needed.
  • Use to baste meats (chicken or steaks) while grilling or barbecuing. Its not usually used as a marinade, but it can be used as a marinade if you wish. Use it to marinade chicken or fish too.
  • Red wine vinegar is the best vinegar for chimichurri. Use lemon juice as a substitution. Balsamic or white vinegar isn’t recommended.
  • Use it as a salsa and pour it over the hot cooked steaks fresh off the BBQ grill.

In the cuisine of León, Guanajuato Mexico, chimichurri is a mayonnaise based sauce (popular as a pizza topping) which includes the chile de árbol. This dressing has an orange hue and is very popular in León.

Ingredients

  • 1 clove of garlic (raw)
  • 3 sprigs of fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup of dried chile de arbol/tree chili (a common Mexican chili pepper less hot than Cayenne)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1 litre of olive oil

Method:

  1. Place all the ingredients except the oil into the blender (dried chiles, fresh parsley, garlic clove, raw egg, mustard, vinegar, water and salt).
  2. Blend on HIGH until smooth (you’ll still have small pieces of red chili pepper skin).
  3. Let sit for 3 minutes. This is to allow air bubbles to escape.
  4. Blend on LOW while SLOWLY adding the oil in a steady drizzle. We are trying to bind the oil and water using the protein in the egg to get a mayonnaise consistency. Pouring the oil in too quickly may make the sauce “split” or separate. If this happens then start with a raw egg, blend in whilst adding a little oil SLOWLY, and once it starts to mayonnaise up then add the split mayo back in SLOWLY and it should reincorporate.
“Split” mayonnaise

Just be aware that, if using the piquin in your recipe, this small chile is hotter than an arbol (when using the Scoville scale of “hotness”)

Mexican chimichurri can be used for so much more than pizza

Pollo Asado con Salsa de Chimichurri Leones, Esquites y Puré de Papa.

La Cocinoteca restaurant
Av Cerro Gordo 270, Casa de Piedra, 37120 León, Gto., Mexico

Fernando Zamora Colmenero in his Blog El Xoconostle notes “Within the city of León there are two establishments that claim to have invented it: El Rincón Gaucho , a meat restaurant (un restaurante de carnes) that tells us that it invented chimichurri with the intention of offering a spicy version of Argentine chimichurri. The other version is given by Lupillo’s , a pizzeria that claims to have invented the chimichurri to complete or accompany its pizzas. In none of the cases is reliable proof of the invention of chimichurri offered. But it is a fact that chimichurri is so popular throughout the state of Guanajuato that transnational pizzerias (such as Domino’s or Little Cesar’s) are forced to include this product in order to remain in the local market.” (1)

  1. El Xoconostle is a project that began in May 2015 with the intention of creating its own space to share different perspectives and opinions on gastronomy. As a result of this passion, EL XOCONOSTLE is now consolidated as a platform dedicated to research, documentation and dissemination of gastronomic heritage.

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