Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Nicaraguan Salpicón! Chopped Beef in Zesty Lime with Onions and Peppers

A Two for Tuesday Recipe 

Today I am taking you on a culinary trip down south to Central America, Nicaragua to be precise. The Hub and his family are from Nicaragua. Nicaraguans refer to themselves and anything Nicaraguan as "Nica". So if you see me using the term "Nica", now you know what I am referring too!

I was introduced to this Nicaraguan dish, like most of the Nicaraguan food I have come to love, at my in-laws. My father-in-law, Aurelio, is a fantastic cook and he taught me how to make Salpicón (pronounced SAL-PEE-CONE). And by taught, I mean he told me what goes in it (no exact measurements) and what the process is. That's the sign of what I call a "natural chef"! This dish is tooted as being dietetic because there is absolutely no fat in it, and uses a lean cut of meat ... eye round. When you look at the actual recipe you tend to think it's too simple and can't possibly be all that flavorful, but I got to tell you, it is! The lime juice breaks down the rawness and mellows the flavor of the onions and peppers and gives the finely chopped meat a light and tangy taste. Traditionally, Salpicón is served with Nica white rice and boiled or fried plantains. However, it's absolutely divine served in a lettuce wrap with pickled onions, radishes and cucumbers, sprinkled into a simple salad, or wrapped in a tortilla, preferably a Nica tortilla, with "crema" (similar to crème fraîche) and a little crumbled "queso ahumado" (similar to Feta, only smoked) over top. So pack your culinary taste buds as we head into the land of Nica food!

2 pounds eye round, trimmed of any fat, cut down into smaller chucks,
roughly 2"
2 quarters of water
1/2 of a head of garlic, cloves smashed and peeled
2 onions:

  • 1 onion, chopped into quarters 
  • 1 onion, finely diced about 1/8"  

2 bell peppers, 1 green, 1 red:

  • 1/2 a green and 1/2  red, chopped into quarters
  • 1/2 a green and 1/2  red, finely diced about 1/8"

1/2 - 3/4 cup of lime and the zest of the lime
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

In a deep pot add the meat, water, garlic, quartered onion and peppers and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a low boil and simmer for about an hour.  Or use a slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8.

Remove meat from pot, discard vegetables. Save the beef broth* to use in another recipe. Let the meat cool to room temperature and chop finely. See photo!

Add the diced onion, peppers, lime juice, zest, vinegar and salt. Mix well to distribute vegetables and seasonings evenly. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving or place in fridge until almost ready to eat, allow to come to room temperature.

How to Serve: Salpicón is served at room temperature, it is rarely, if ever, eaten hot or warm. It is served with Nicaraguan White Rice and boiled plantains. ENJOY!

*Recipe Notes:  Save the beef broth to use in other recipes by freezing in 1 cup portions in zip bags or freeze in ice cube tray to use when small amounts of broths are needed. Each cube is roughly 2 tablespoons.

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