Chips and salsa may not be the first things that come to mind when thinking about New Orleans finger food. But that dynamic duo and several other south-of-the-border snacks are party and football-watching staples in many homes and sports bars throughout the City. More importantly, I love chips and salsa. When I’m happy, I celebrate with chips and salsa. When I’m sad, I seek comfort in chips and salsa. And when I’m stressed, I relax by eating obnoxiously large quantities of chips and salsa. I truly believe I could live off of water, coffee, beer and … chips and salsa. Don’t judge me. I’m just being real. While I’m being real, let me also say that I’m a bit of a salsa snob. Not in a frou-frou, best-of-the-best kind of way, but in a I-like-what-I-like-and-don’t-want-to-compromise sort of way. Those therapeutic bowls I crave must be smooth with a pleasant balance of sweet and heat and a slight kick of acid. They must also contain a generous amount of cilantro backed up by a subtle hint of garlic. And that’s pretty much it. As basic as that sounds, my dream salsa is hard to find among those jarred varieties. So I make my own. Fortunately, a big batch of my homemade salsa requires only a handful of ingredients and seconds to prepare. When you’re ready to give it a try, dump everything into a blender and puree. The only thing you need to watch out for when making this recipe is the salt. Don’t add any until you’ve tested the salsa with the chip you plan on serving it with. Some of those tortilla chips are sodium bombs. Know what you’re dealing with before you season the salsa!
When it comes to the perfect drinking companion for this finger food, there are two options: margaritas or beer. A pitcher of those cool Mango Margaritas I introduced you to sometime ago and light beer will help temper the heat. Bigger beers, like my all-time favorite IPAs, will accentuate the spiciness of the salsa. Pick your partner and celebrate, seek comfort or just relax!
Until next week …
Homemade Salsa Recipe
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, with juice
5 whole pickled jalapeno peppers, stemmed
1/2 medium onion, peeled
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Tortilla chips, for serving
In a blender, combine tomatoes, pickled jalapenos, onion, garlic, cilantro and garlic powder; process until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with tortilla chips. Makes 4 cups.