Grilling – It’s all about the experience! Nothing compares to the calm feeling when all is quiet and you are standing right next to the fire while cooking for your family. Yes, some people say for a moment to be fulfilling there must be a connection. Many say you must cook with love. And others follow all the steps on a recipe from A-Z. But everyone will agree that the magic is created in the experience. Our friend Mike, grilling enthusiast, shares with us a three-part series about his love for cooking for family and friends on the open flame.
The Flavor is There –
If you’re like me, there’s no single season for grilling because I am out there year-round! That said, there are certainly seasons where the whole family is more inclined to join me in the experience and have fun while I am cooking for them. To be honest, this is the part that I love the most!
I am thankful that my family looks forward to the dishes that I cook, knowing that they will be exactly the way they like them every time! It’s not only the main dish that I grill that they love, one of the complimentary dishes that they look forward to the most is my Fresh Chimol Salsa. Although this is something I enjoy making, I have to give credit to my wife, as we use the same ingredients and steps, but hers somehow always tastes better!
Now some professionals may swear that to nail the flavor in their signature dishes, they need to hand select their ingredients them from the closest farm, their favorite grocery store, or even from their own garden. I like consistency when I cook, so when it comes to choosing ingredients to make the dishes that my family counts on, I relay on the quality of Pure Flavor® Tomatoes On-The-Vine. By purchasing greenhouse grown produce, I don’t have to worry that the flavor might change depending on the season because they are always consistent. I can count on the flavor being exactly what I expect any time of the year. Greenhouse grown makes me confident that in a controlled environment, the plant will get the right amount of light and nutrients all year round and that guarantees consistent flavor. The year-round availability certainly comes in handy since you’ll remember I mentioned earlier that I like to grill the whole year through! This makes it a win-win situation!
Let’s Cook –
I’m originally from El Salvador, and we love the smoky flavor in our food! Now that I’ve shared one of my secrets to success in Fresh Chimol Salsa, I’ll show you how we give ‘Hispanic flavor’ to a well known recipe.
In my country, gas grills were not common until a couple of years ago. Typically, some kind of homemade grill was built out of what was available. They definitely weren’t fancy, even an old car rim could be used! We then gathered ‘leña’ or firewood to use as fuel to heat the grill. Here in Canada, I either use a kettle, kamado or an offset smoker when I cook for my family. As I mentioned earlier, for me it’s all about the experience and my family loves to gather and cook together. Even with just 2 cinder blocks, a rack, and some firewood we can all enjoy a nice dinner. I truly believe that food brings people together.
When it comes to simple grilling, we usually use beef skirt or flank steak, and marinate it for hours prior to grilling. Some people marinate with mojo, a citrusy, garlicky marinade, others with a combination of mustard, salt, and pepper…but I prefer a mix of Chimichurri plus mustard. This combination has just a bit more of the South American flavors to it. There you have it – a pro tip of how Latinos marinate their meat for cooking! Once your meat is ready, bring it to your “parrilla” or grill in this case. To start, I like to pile the ambers on one side of the parrilla. The key to live-fire cooking is to use indirect fire to let the meat smoke and slow cook for some time. I usually plan on cooking it over the indirect heat for about 30-45 minutes to get the optimal flavor. Once your meat has the desired internal temperature, put that beautiful piece of steak over the ambers for a quick sear, flipping it over to sear the other side as well. To serve, thinly slice your steak and top it with my glorious Fresh Chimol Salsa.
Fresh Chimol Salsa –
We usually make a lot of this Tomato Salsa at home because it’s so versatile and can be included in many dishes for that extra pop of flavor. We don’t only use it to complement our grilled steak, we also serve it alongside tortilla chips or over nachos. It’s even a great addition to breakfast by quickly warming it in a pan with olive oil and then serving it over some sunny-side up or scrambled eggs to make them “rancheros”.
How to Make it –
Making this Fresh Chimol Salsa is very easy. You will need:
- 10 Pure Flavor® Tomatoes On-The-Vine, finely diced
- 1 Pure Flavor® Green Sweet Bell Pepper, finely diced
- 7 limes, juiced
- 3 chiles de arbol, finely diced
- 1 red onion, finely diced
- ½ cup celery, finely diced
- ½ bunch cilantro, finely diced
- ¼ bunch parsley, finely diced
- Salt, to taste
To start, finely dice your tomatoes, sweet bell pepper, chiles, onion, cilantro, parsley, and celery. Some people cut them into a more manageable size and place them in a food processor, but you need to be careful here because it might turn into juice and not salsa! Pulse it slowly if you are using the food processor. Mix the diced items together and slowly add the lime juice and salt until you get it to your desired taste. One thing to keep in mind is that nature is not perfect and sometimes the limes have more or less juice which will affect the flavor, so add and taste as you go.
At our house, we really care about how ripe the tomatoes are which is why we choose greenhouse grown tomatoes! They are consistently available throughout the year, and they are always perfectly ripe which is ideal for this salsa. We usually make a lot of salsa and keep it in the fridge. Because it has lime juice, it can keep for 3-4 weeks without a problem. Keep in mind that if you make a big batch and store it in the fridge for a day or two, the flavor will get more intense…I like it this way!
Try Something New –
Since we keep this salsa in the fridge all the time it’s readily available when we are entertaining at home. While I’m cooking, my wife will simply go to the fridge, pour some salsa and serve, giving our guests a little tasty treat while we are waiting for the steak to be ready. Like I said, it is all about the experience and sharing with the people you love. Having friends and family close by while I am grilling for them is my favorite way to cook! Of course, in the winter it may just be me outside bundled up next to the grill, but we can always have fresh summer flavors ready to serve with greenhouse grown tomatoes that are available whenever we need! The next time you think about firing up the grill, make sure you take in the experience of cooking for the people you love, and you may just find that with that appreciation, the food you make suddenly tastes that much better! Hopefully this insight into the way I like to live-fire cook inspires you to try something new.
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