September 17, 2010

sites/default/files/salsa_championchip_line2_4.jpg“My favorite salsas have a nice balance of heat and acid, with a little smoke,” says Sarah Henkin, CUESA’s Market Chef. “I also like it when you can really taste the produce!” Henkin had the opportunity to serve as a judge (along with Dirty Girl Produce’s Joe Schirmer and SF Weekly food and music writer Tamara Palmer) at last week’s Salsa ChampionChip, the latest SF Food Wars event. 

What is a food war, exactly? According to founder Jeannie Choe, it’s an event where home cooks and seasoned chefs alike can “throw down” (i.e. prepare 200-300 samples of their best effort) while “ravenous onlookers sample the cornucopia of entries, savor, ponder, and vote for their favorite.” Choe curates around two dozen teams for each war; she chooses from a wide pool of entrants, based on their recipes, with an eye for quality and diversity. The teams compete around a single food category (past events have focused on pie, chocolate cookies, brunch, mac and cheese, etc.), with lots of room for creativity. Most impressive: the events are known to sell out online to within 5 minutes.sites/default/files/championchip_sarah_2.jpg

CUESA joined forces with SF Food Wars with the hope of adding local farmers market produce into an already successful equation. (For the ChampionChip, we gave every contestant a batch of farmers market tokens with which to buy at least some ingredients at the market). The fact that contestants would be battling it out at the peak of tomato and pepper season made salsa the obvious choice. Here are a few of the winning recipes.

Smoked Salsa de Chile de Cascabel

Roger Feely, Team Soul Cocina
Judges’ 1st place winner

Two big handfuls of chile cascabel peppers
One dozen tomatillos
One dozen dry farmed Early Girl tomatoes
2 heads of garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
Small handful of chile tepin peppers
Small handful of chile de arbol peppers.
Read more.

“Gutsy Red Salsa” or Roasted Red Ranchera Salsasites/default/files/salsa_peopleschoice_winners.jpg

Francisco Garibay, Team Eat This Mexican
People’s Choice 1st place winner

4 roasted Roma tomatoes
2 slightly roasted garlic clove
3 roasted Chiles Serranos
¼ cup yellow onion, chopped
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
Read more.

Mango Bango Salsasites/default/files/salsa_mango_winners.jpg

Sister Mable Syrup, Team Ready, Willing, and Mable
Judges’ 3rd place winner

4 cups fire-roasted tomatoes, diced
5 cloves garlic, grated
1 habanero pepper, fire-roasted, seeds removed, liquefied
¼ tsp oregano (Mexican preferred)
¼ tsp dried basil
¼ tsp finely ground black pepper
½ tsp sea salt
zest and juice of one lime
1 large ripe avocado, peeled, seeded, and diced
2 mangos, peeled, seeded, and diced
Read more.