Photo by Sonia Mendez Garcia

Smoked Salsa Borracha for Carne Asada

Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 4 cups each

My favorite way to enjoy salsa this summer is using my outdoor grill to cook up the ingredients. Now if that was not enough, try adding some wood chips and smoking the ingredients for an hour. It’s amazing! The first time I tried a smoked salsa was a few years ago while in Texas visiting my brother Ismael. This was before I was bit with the grilling bug myself, so I had not enjoyed it since that time. But as soon as the weather was nice, I prepared a big batch of smoked salsa at home. The first time, I did not add any beer and it was still great. But for carne asada tacos, I have enjoyed a grilled salsa borracha using a lager-style Mexican beer that cooks and blends well with all of the flavors of the salsa. If you like cooking with beer, this very traditional Monterrey style of salsa borracha is a must-have for your summer menu.

*Note: The red and green salsas are made with the same ingredients, except one has tomatoes (red) or tomatillos (green), so make sure you double all of the ingredients if preparing both.

You will also need 2 cups of wood chips, apple or cherry, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes.


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  1. Drain water from wood chips and place near the hot coals. I like to lay the wood chips directly next to hot coals, but you could leave them in the pan. When it begins to smoke, add tray of vegetables to the indirect side. Open bottom vent near the fire halfway and do the same with top vent on the indirect side. Close lid and smoke for about 1 hour, turning as needed. After an hour, move all the peppers to the direct heat side and cook until skins char and blister. Remove all ingredients from grill.
  2. In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil to medium heat. Divide the ingredients if making both the red and green salsas and prepare them in separate pans. Add the tomatoes or tomatillos, onions and serranos. Remove blistered skin from poblano or Anaheim, peel skins from garlic. Rough chop poblano (or Anahiem) and garlic and add to pan. Reduce heat, add beer and season with salt and pepper to taste. You can use a hand-held blender or a potato masher to break down the salsa as it simmers. Continue cooking salsa for 15 to 20 minutes or until it reduces slightly and becomes thicker. Remove from heat. Serve at room temperature.
  3. Garnish tacos with finely chopped onions, cilantro and lime wedges.

Chef Notes

287-newfolder8 If you want a stronger smoked flavor, you can try hickory or mesquite wood. When referring to indirect heat, it means the side of your grill that has no heat source or fire. 289-newfolder24 A quick carne asada: In the blender, combine and blend juice of 2 limes, 2 cloves garlic, 1 serrano, 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/4 cup olive oil and salt to taste. Marinate 1 1/2 pounds of sirloin tip thin steaks for at least 2 hours. Grill on high heat for 2 to 3 minutes per side. Let rest for 2 minutes, then chop finely for serving and making tacos.

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