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Leftovers: Carne Guisada, Salsa and More

by John Raven, Ph. B.

We are going to start off this month with some odds and ends that don't seem to fit into any category. Every so often you have to do this to keep your odds and ends drawer from overflowing.

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First of all comes my idea of carne guisada. Carne guisada is a Southwest dish that is simply meat and gravy. My version is Carne Guisada Rojo -- red meat and gravy. You will need:

  • 1 Pound lean beef or pork, cut into bite-size cubes
  • 1 Medium onion, diced
  • 1 Large bell pepper, diced
  • 1 - 14 oz. can Diced tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cooking oil or shortening
  • Flour
Season the meat with salt and pepper. Then dredge it in flour, and fry in oil or shortening in a heavy skillet. When the meat is browned, add the onion and bell pepper. When they are limp, add the can of tomatoes and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer until the meat is very tender. You may have to add water if the mixture is too thick. Serve with flour tortillas.

You can liven this dish up with the addition of some jalapeos or other chile peppers of your choosing. Just don't get it too hot. Using half green bell pepper and half yellow bell pepper will add visual appeal.

Raven's Quick Salsa

  • ½ Medium onion, chopped fine
  • 2 to 6 Fresh jalapeos, seeded
  • 1 - 14 oz. can Diced tomatoes
  • 1 Clove garlic, smashed or dash of garlic powder
Combine all ingredients and refrigerate for several hours before serving. Goes great with any Tex-Mex and makes a good dip for chips.

I've found lately that jalapeo peppers purchased from a store can vary greatly in the heat they contain. One will be as mild as a bell pepper, and the next will take the fillings out of your teeth. So devise a test for your jalapeos so you don't ruin a good dish with too much heat. Perhaps someone in your household will volunteer to test the peppers for heat. I've been around the peppers so long that I can determine the heat by the way my nose and eyes react when placed close to the pepper in question.

With the coming of Summer, we are going to start getting those great fresh vegetables. Next recipe is named for them.

Salsa de Legumbres Frescas (fresh garden salsa)

  • 2 Large tomatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 Cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 Cup diced green chilies, mild (see Note below)
  • 1/3 Cup fine chopped onion
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/3 Cup vinegar
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1/2 Teaspoon black pepper
Combine all ingredients and refrigerate in a tightly sealed container overnight. [Note: Use fresh Anaheims or mild jalapeos. If in doubt, use a 4-ounce can of chopped green chilies. Also, don't confuse celery seeds with celery salt or celery powder; they are all different animals. Please use the celery seeds here. They are important.]

Several years ago when the fajitas craze was at its peak, there were a lot of ideas as to what salsa went with the fajitas. The proper salsa for fajitas is Pico de Gallo -- peck of the cock, a rather mild salsa that complements the other fajita ingredients.

Pico de Gallo (PEEK-o day GUY-o)

  • 8 Long green chilies, roasted, peeled, deveined and chopped
  • 2 Small yellow chilies, roasted, peeled and chopped
  • 5 Green onions chopped, including tops
  • 1/4 Cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons salad oil
  • 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients and chill. There's also the popular Pico de Gallo recipe in Grandma's Cookbook.

I have a huge sweet tooth. I look for recipes that combine sweetness with other flavors. I don't think sweet should be confined just to dessert time. Therefore here's a sweet salsa.

Sweet Salsa

  • 1 Recipe either Quick Salsa or Pico de Gallo from above
  • 1 Small box either lemon or lime Jello
After your salsa has begun to cool, mix up the Jello as per package directions. When the Jello has cooled to room temperature, add it to your salsa and mix well and put it in the refrigerator. Check just before it takes the final set to see that all the vegetables are in suspension. If they aren't, stir it and refrigerate until set. This sweet salsa is good with most anything.

Cold roast beef with jalapeno jelly is hard to beat. It just wouldn't be fair to mention sweets without giving a recipe for the famous jalapeo jelly. But before you go to all the trouble of boiling up a batch of your very own, let me caution you that jalapeo jelly is an unusual combination of flavors. You either like it or dislike it -- not much middle ground. If you've never tasted jalapeno jelly, get a small sample jar from your local Tex-Mex supply store.

Jalapeno Pepper Jelly

  • 4 to 6 Large jalapeo peppers, seeded, deveined and chopped fine
  • 4 Green bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 Cup apple cider vinegar
  • 5 Cups sugar
  • 1 - 6 oz. bottle of pectin
  • Green food coloring
Liquefy in the blender one-fourth of the peppers (jalapeos and bell peppers) and one-fourth cup of vinegar. Repeat until all peppers are liquefied and you've used all the vinegar. Mix the pepper-vinegar mixture with sugar and bring to a boil in a 2-quart kettle. Boil slowly for ten minutes.

Add the pectin. Raise the heat, and boil hard for five minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and skim off foam with a metal spoon. If the color doesn't suit you, you can add the food coloring, a drop or two at a time, until it does. Put in sterile jars and seal securely.

I think you will find that the jalapeno jelly goes better on meats than on toast for breakfast. Cold roast beef with jalapeno jelly is hard to beat. And next time you are grilling chicken, give the chicken a glaze of melted jalapeo jelly. Outstanding.

When we get a little further into the Summer, I'll give you some recipes and factoids on my favorite chile, the cayenne. Yes, that hellish hot red powder has other uses. You may not know it, but it starts out green just like most all other peppers and turns red as it matures. I didn't have a crop last year, because the deer liked the cayenne peppers even more that I did. I think I'll have a large enough crop this season to work up some recipes for you. Get the iced tea ready.

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