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Monday, February 26, 2007

Pico De Gallo

By Janet Wilder
Hi RVers! It has to be 4 PM somewhere so it’s Happy Hour.

One of the things I love most about RVing is, after setting up in a new campground, meeting the neighbors and getting together for Happy Hour. Everyone brings their beverage of choice and a snack to share. We have made so many wonderful and cherished friends at these little get-togethers.

When we were full-timing we spent winters in the Lower Rio Grande Valley and loved the area so much that it’s now our home. Living only six miles from the Mexican border, I’m exposed to lots of local culture and cuisine.

When you go to a local Mexican restaurant on either side of the border, there is nothing on the table that resembles the salsa that comes in a jar. Not even the kind that isn’t from New York City. What is usually on the table is a bowl of fresh Pico de Gallo. In English it translates to “beak of the rooster” but no one has been able to tell me why. The nice thing about this dish is that it’s fresh and can be made as spicy or as bland as you like it.

12 Roma tomatoes, peeled and seeded -- chopped
12 jalapenos, seeded, membranes removed, and rinsed -- chopped
1 large sweet onions -- chopped
1/2 bunch cilantro -- rinsed & chopped
4 Mexican Key Limes -- freshly squeezed
salt -- to taste

Place tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds then dunk into cold water. Remove skin.
Mix chopped tomato, jalapeno and onion. Add cilantro, lime juice and salt. Drain in a strainer, if desired. Taste everything and adjust it to your standards. Chill for an hour for the flavors to blend. Serve in a bowl with corn ships on the side.

ALWAYS wear some kind of gloves when working with hot peppers. If you don’t have any gloves, put small plastic sandwich bags on your hands. The oils from the peppers get on your skin and are difficult to wash off. If you rub your eye with the finger that has pepper-oil on it, you will have a mucho-unhappy experience.

Use less jalapenos if you want a less spicy salsa. Leave the seeds and membranes for the heat.

If you don’t want to mess with the tomato skins, you don’t have to. Just make sure you seed the tomatoes before chopping them. Also, the food processor doesn’t work well for this recipe. Everything gets too mushy and tastes more like the jarred stuff. Use one regular lime if you can’t get the tiny limes.

Pico de Gallo makes a lovely side dish for grilled chicken breasts, too. Add some extra lime and some peeled and deveined diced raw shrimp and refrigerate it overnight for ceviche so you can be the star at the next day’s Happy Hour.


Elaine said...

I love Pico de Gallo. I tone it down by using half regular green peppers and half jalapenos, otherwise, my recipe is very similar. I got it in San Antonio a few years ago. I also add a bit of olive oil to mine, to kind of hold things together.

Elaine said...

I love Pico de Gallo. I heard the name comes from the ingredients being chopped to a comfortable size for a rooster's beak. My recipe is very similar, it came from San Antonio years ago. I tone it down a bit by substituting half regular bell peppers. Also I add a bit of olive oil to smooth it out.

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