This is the first in a series of recipes that I will be publishing that have been passed along to me by friends, cooks and restaurant owners.
María José Serrano Sada has been a friend of mine for about two years and is a chef, writer, editor and artist. In March she invited me to her beautiful home in the Roma neighborhood in México City to sip on cold beers and teach me how to prepare salpicón.
Salpicón is chilled shredded meat with chopped vegetables mixed with a light, acidic dressing made with lime, bitter oranges or vinegar and seasoned with fresh and dried herbs. Depending on the region in Mexico it can be prepared with a variety of meats, from beef, deer, chicken to rabbit or even crab. Salpicón is a perfect dish for hot spring or summer afternoons and is served on tostadas with sliced avocados.
This version of salpicón is María José´s adaptation of a recipe from the cookbook Nuevo Cocinero Mexicano en Forma de Diccionario, first published in 1897. The recipe comes from the city of Puebla and is made with vinegar instead of lime or bitter orange. In María José´s version we have used veal, however you can replace the veal with beef or chicken. While the dish can be slightly spicy as it does have chiles in it, I like to serve the salpicón with my homemade chipotles in vinegar to add a little more spice (See my recipe for chipotles in vinagre published on August 8, 2013). If you don’t have chipotles on hand you can you use another type of salsa or eat it plain.
4 tips from María José when preparing salpicón:
- When preparing the dressing mix the vinegar with the salt before adding the olive oil so that the salt dissolves well.
- Chop the lettuce thinly so that they are about the same width as the thin strips of pulled meat.
- Don’t waste the roots and stems of the cilantro! I always used to pull off the leaves off and threw the stems and roots away. However, the stems have a lot of flavor and can be chopped along with the leaves and the roots can be used to flavor the broth.
- Shredding the meat is a long and slow process, however, if it’s still hot it’s easier to pull the veal into thin strips. Let it cool off slightly and begin shredding
- 1 lb of veal
- ½ of a white onion
- 20 black peppercorns
- 1 ½ tablespoons of salt
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 stems or 1 teaspoon of thyme
- 3 stems marjoram or 1 teaspoon
- 2 cloves of garlic
- cilantro roots (You can use the roots from the cilantro that will be used for the salpicón. If the roots have already been removed, not worry, the roots just add extra flavor to the broth but are not necessary)
- 2 small to medium sized potatoes
- 2- 4 serrano chiles or 2 to 3 jalapeños in vinegar chopped finely. (Jalapeños in vinegar can be bought canned or you can make your own using my recipe, posted on February 11, 2014)
- ½ of a red onion chopped finely
- ¼ of a small head of iceberg lettuce chopped finely into thin strips. You can soak the lettuce in a bowl of water before adding to the salpicón so that it doesn’t brown.
- 4 radishes washed and chopped into strips. Make sure that the strips aren’t too thin so that they will maintain their crunchiness
- 1/3 cup of cilantro chopped, with stems
- A pinch of Mexican oregano
- 1-2 avocados
- ¼ cup of olive oil
- ¾ cup of apple cider vinegar, plain vinegar or you can also use the vinegar from the jalapeños
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- 5 black peppercorns
Put the meat, garlic, onions, herbs, cilantro roots, black pepper and salt in the pressure cooker, filling no more than 2/3. Put the top on, seal closed and bring to a boil. When the pressure cooker begins to whistle, continue cooking for 20 minutes more. Turn off the heat and let sit until it has cooled and can be opened.
Put the meat, garlic, onions, herbs, cilantro roots, black pepper and salt into the pot and bring to a boil. When boiling, lower the heat so that the water maintains a light boil, and continue cooking for about 40 minutes longer.
Remove the meat from the broth and let cool slightly. Begin pulling the meat into thin strips for the salpicón. It is easier to pull the meat if its still hot, so if possible, don’t let it cool off entirely. The broth can be frozen and used for soups or sauces.
Whisk together the salt and vinegar. Add the black pepper and oil, whisk and reserve.
If you are going to cook the meat in a normal pot, you can boil the potatoes in the same water for about 20 minutes, poking them with a fork occasionally to see if they are cooked. If you are using a pressure cooker, boil the potatoes in separate pot. Make sure not to overcook them because they will fall apart in the salpicón.
Once the potatoes are cooked remove them from the pot. While they are still hot cut them into small to medium sized cubes and put in a bowl. Add about ¼ cup of the dressing and mix together and let sit so that the potatoes absorb the mixture.
Chop the rest of the vegetables as indicated in the list of ingredients.
In a large bowl mix together the meat, chiles, cilantro, onion, radishes, lettuce, potatoes, the remaining dressing and a pinch of oregano.
Check for salt and let sit for at least 30 minutes in the fridge. I prefer to let it sit for a least an hour, but if you don’t have time it can be served after half and hour.
Serve on tostadas, with sliced avocado and chipotles or salsa.