California Rancho Cooking

Clay’s Kitchen on Sarsa

Clay got this recipe from California Rancho Cooking by Jacqueline Higuera McMahan. He says it makes about 5 cups.

The word sarsa belongs to the old vernacular favored by Californios when referring to their favorite things. Salsa and sarsa are sort of the same thing but sarsa is meant to be chunkier and calls for milder green chiles. Add a jalapeño or two if you want a more picante sarsa. Finally, everything is anointed with wine vinegar and olive oil.

Sarsa is typically eaten on top of frijole or wrapped in a tortilla, but barbecued meats were never served without it.

4 large tomatoes
4 green anaheim chiles
1 sweet red onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 to 2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon wine vinegar
2 teaspoons fruity olive oil
¼ cup finely snipped cilantro
1 sprig of oregano

Char the tomatoes over a gas flame or on a grill. Char the chiles until blackened in the same way. Place the chiles under a damp cloth or paper towels to steam for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, pull off the tomato skins, cut the tomatoes in half, and remove the seeds. Dice the tomatoes. Use a paper towel to rub off the blackened skins from the chiles. Slit the chiles open and pull out the seeds, reserving some of them. Dice the chiles and add to the tomatoes. Add the onion, garlic, salt, vinegar, olive oil, and cilantro. Add enough reserved chile seeds to lend authority to the sarsa. Immerse the oregano sprig in the sarsa and set in a cool place until the barbecue is ready.

Fresh sarsa keeps for a day, but if you happen to have some left over, simmer in a saucepan for 5 minutes and serve over eggs: Huevos Rancheros. To make sarsa spicier, add 2 to 4 teaspoons chile powder.

I am also told corn tortillas were for Indians and flour ones for Spaniards, but not everybody is sure this is true. My town was Chumash. It has the oldest skeleton in North America, dating from the end of the last Ice Age.


4 thoughts on “California Rancho Cooking

  1. Chumash. My sister will be lecturing on the Chumash at Santa Clara Community College.

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