Thursday, September 11, 2008

Salsas, Sambals, Chutneys & Chowchows

So, I am going to crank up my big green egg this afternoon and cook up some bovine flesh. I used to be a vegetarian long ago in the seventies when most of my students were mere eggs waiting for daddy's wink and curling finger. So I still cringe when I go to Kroger's and stare at the bloody hunks so neatly laid out and packaged in glistening plastic.

But I long ago sold my metabolism to the Country Store in exchange for barbecue. So I will go out and find a cringeworthy slice of some unoffending steer, lay in the charcoal chunks and get out the electric fire starter, and burn my way to din din.

But first I intend to make my favorite accompaniment which is sweet and spicy peach relish a recipe drawn from my favoriteist cookbook by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby, Salsas, Sambals, Chutneys & Chowchows: Intensely Flavored Little dishes from around the world. This is a fun book to read just for the idea that we might make some of these bizarre garnishes.


When peaches come in season like NOW, and when some fool from the FDA is not claiming that this or that vegetable is poisoning us, this is the recipe I get out and wrap my thick fingers around.

First, I have to peal four large semi-ripe peaches, pit them and slice into nice thin chunks.

Then a red and a green bell pepper, each cut into thin strips.

I get out my mandolin and slice a red onion into ribbons--do you have any idea how hard it is to find a red onion small enough to fit on a mandolin? Somehow Kroger has only giant red onions on offer these days.

Half a cup of orange juice, freshly squozen (if that's not a word, it sure should be), if you can afford the usurious prices Mr. Kroger is charging for these rare fruits.

Quarter of a cup of virgin olive oil--though I think it a shame not to find some well experienced and worldly olives to reduce to oil--

the juice of four limes.

[What has happened to limes? There must have been a bad freeze in Florida or Mexico or Chile or Poona. Surely a Typhoon in China or a tidal wave in Mozambique has wrecked the possibilities of having nice limes. I was in Mr. Kroger's the other day and they had on offer the smallest, palest green orbs, unlike Fresh Market which had the most amazing plump darkest green ones on offer, if you can afford to mortgage the house to own a few.]

a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses,

one well chopped jalapeno pepper,

half a cup of snipped cilantro--or parsley, if you are like my wife and can't stand the magnificent flavor of this herb, and

two cloves of minced garlic.

This is so wonderful, it is not to be missed in peach season. You can of course season this with pepper and salt if you must.

I do recommend this little book, if it is still in print. American Publishers like Willam Marrow and Co who published this in 1990 are not used to keeping things in print very long. But Amazon might have it used. [It is just as I feared. The book is no longer in print, but 27are available used from $5.17 + postage and handling or $14.95.]

Don't deprive yourself of this amazing summer garnish for that poor steer's offering.

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