Cookbook Profile

Jalisco-Style Guajillo Salsa

Salsa De Guajillo Estilo Jalisco


In Jalisco, a state in north-central Mexico, cooks rub goat or lamb with a guajillo chile mixture and cook the meat slowly until it's meltingly tender. It's called birria—no one makes it quite like my friend Alejandro Garcia—and it's a local riff on the more ubiquitous slow-cooked dish called Barbacao (page 146 of the book). It's typically served with this stunning salsa, an earthy, tangy blend of dried guajillo and chiles de arbol, that tastes great on just about any preparation of lamb or beef, like grilled chops or skirt steak. Anyone unfamiliar with this salsa should make it right away (because it's so delicious!) and should pay particular attention to getting the flavor hierarchy right: The strongest flavors should come from the earthy, barely sweet guajillos and the nutty, spicy chiles de arbol. Next you'll taste a smack of garlic, and finally the spices—cumin and even a whisper of ginger. And yes, you read the recipe right: You don't have to toast the chiles!

Put the chiles in a medium pot with enough water to cover them and bring the water to a simmer. Cook until they are soft and a brighter red color, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger to the chiles and simmer for 1 minute.

Drain the chiles, garlic, and ginger and add them to the blender jar along with the 3/4 cup of fresh water, vinegar, salt, and cumin. Blend until smooth, gradually adding water (no more than 1/4 cup) if necessary to puree, at least 2 minutes. Strain the salsa through a medium-mesh sieve for a silky smooth sauce. Season to taste with additional vinegar and salt.

Serve it with Grilled Adobo-Marinated Skirt Steak (page 135), Adobo-Marinated Chicken (page 133), Adobo Braised Lamb (page 145), Tacos (pages 212-214), Tortilla Chips (page 229), rice, beans, or any other side you like (pages 245-255).

This salsa keeps in the refrigerator for up to five days or in the freezer for up to one month.


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This page created June 2011