Monday, June 20, 2011
One Way or Another
That’s an old Blondie song. Kind of stalkery. Full of attitude. Back when Blondie was new, stalking wasn’t much of an issue yet. Lots of people I knew spent large portions of their adolescence driving by the houses of people they had crushes on. I never did that myself. Of course not. Because I am perfect. I know the one true and right way to do…well, everything.
Yep. One best way. I really thought there was such a thing. Sometimes I still kind of wish there was. It would make a writing career easier. Follow steps 1-17, and presto! Instant bestsellerdom. But I’m coming around to the notion that it’s okay not to be able to master, or even identify the One True or Best Way for everything.
In honor of summer finally arriving in Northern California, and with it the first pick of Gold Dust Peaches at my sister’s Frog Hollow Farm, and in memory of my youthful devotion to finding the One Best Way to do…well, everything… here are two ways to make Peach Salsa: The one best way, and another one that works and is a lot less persnickety.
The One Best Way to Make Gold Dust Peach Salsa
This salsa tastes best with the Gold Dust variety of peach. They ripen around the middle of June, and the last ones come in around the 4th of July. Use tree-ripened fruit. Those hard green or mealy things found in so many supermarkets aren’t worth the trouble.
Makes about 8 cups
3 cups peeled Gold Dust peaches cut into ¼-inch dice
2 limes, juiced
1 cup diced white or red onion, 1/8-inch cubes
1 cup raw, peeled and diced jicama, 1/8-inch cubes
1 large poblano pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and diced into 1/8-inch cubes
1 large red pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and diced into 1/8-inch cubes
2 mild peppers, such as Anaheims, roasted, peeled, seeded and diced into 1/8-inch cubes
1/3 cup of Serrano pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and diced into 1/8-inch cubes
2 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 Tablespoon finely minced fresh Italian parsley
1 Tablespoon finely minced fresh cilantro leaves
1 Tablespoon finely minced fresh green onion tops
1 Tablespoon green onion bottoms, very finely sliced
1-2 teaspoons kosher salt (to taste)
½ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
optional: 1 finely diced fresh Serrano chili pepper, or even a habanero, if you want more heat
Before you start, roast all the peppers on a grill, preferably over apple or cherrywood coals, until the skins char and blister all over. Put them in a bowl and cover them with a kitchen towel so that they’ll steam a bit. You can do this a day ahead. When they’re cool, peel, seed, and cut the flesh into 1/8-inch dice.
Juice the limes and put the juice in a large bowl. If the limes are on the dry side, use more. If you like lots of lime, add more.
Peel the ripe peaches, which should be soft, with a paring knife. Don’t do that thing with dropping them into boiling water for a few seconds. If they’re truly ripe, you can peel them easily without that, and you don’t want them heated at all. It diminishes the fragrance and flavor. Remove the pit, slice, and then dice into ¼-inch cubes. Put the peaches (and as much of the juice as you can capture) in the lime juice as soon as they’re cut. This will keep them from turning brown.
Peel the onion and cut into 1/8-inch dice. Place the dice in a fine mesh strainer and pour boiling water over the onions for 30 seconds to a minute. Drain well. Spread out on paper towel and let cool. Blot out any extra water. Add to the peaches and lime juice.
Add all the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly without mashing the peaches. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve at room temperature with chips or on burgers. Leftovers will keep in a tightly covered jar in the refrigerator for three or four days.
Another Way: Everyday Peach Salsa
Scrounge whatever ripe peaches can be found. Any variety. Over-ripe. Bruised. Farmers’ market rejects. Whatever. They just have to be ripe. Use four. Maybe five. Or six. Depends on the size and how many you have. Grab a couple of meyer lemons off the tree, or limes, if there are any kicking around. Wash and juice lemons or limes. Wash, peel and cut off bruises from the peaches, and dice them up small. Toss them in the citrus juice. If you don’t have enough citrus, use rice vinegar. Or sherry vinegar. Or champagne vinegar. Not balsamic as the color will stain the peaches, but otherwise, whatever you have in the acid department will work. Wash and dice a raw, unpeeled red pepper, or a poblano, or both. Add a hot pepper if you like that. A little chopped parsley, chopped cilantro, minced garlic, fresh cracked black pepper and kosher salt. Onion if you feel like it. Raw, blanched, any color, doesn’t matter. Jicama if you have it. No worries if you don’t. It’s still good.