Beer Review: Ranger, New Belgium Brewery

Ranger American IPA- New Belgium Brewery, Ft. Collins

New Belgium holds a special place in my beer-soaked heart. The brewery provided my gateway to the craft beer world towards the end of college, when I started having a Fat Tire or a Sunshine Wheat in between ping-pong ball garnished Keystone Lights served in red solo cups.

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Salsa: My old familiar friend.

I eat an enormous amount of salsa- substantially more than anyone I know. When I go out for Mexican nobody wants to sit next to me because the salsa bowl on my end of the table is always emptied startlingly fast. There are several factors that contribute to this. 1) To me the taste of salsa is like magic. 2) I am a heavy scooper. No quick dips for me, I like to get in there and load up every chip to its maximum weight bearing capacity. 3) Beer tastes better with salsa. 4) When I eat salsa it feels like a party, even if I’m all by myself.

Coming off the Memorial Day weekend I thought what better way to celebrate the kickoff of summer than a delicious batch of salsa.

What you’ll need:

12 Roma tomatoes
1 White onion
1 Cilantro Bunch
3 Cloves of garlic
3 Jalapeno peppers
3 Limes
1 Teaspoon chili powder
3 Teaspoons salt
2/3 teaspoon cumin
2/3 teaspoon paprika
1/3 teaspoon cayenne pepper

What to do:

1. Chop the tomatoes. I like to quarter them first and then cut out and discard the seeds and goopy part from each quarter. The tomatoes should then be chopped into small pieces.

2. Put the tomatoes in a large bowl and then add 1 teaspoon of salt. Then squeeze the juice from on lime on the tomatoes and mix it up. It’s good to mash some of the tomatoes while you mix to make the salsa juicier. Note: The salt and lime at this point are optional. I like to do this because the salt draws some of the liquid out of the tomatoes and the acid from the lime will make sure the tomatoes stay nice even if I get distracted and leave the kitchen for a while.

3. Mince the onions and cilantro and add to the bowl.

4. Mince the jalapenos and garlic and put them in the bowl. Note: This recipe calls for 3 cloves of garlic and 3 jalapenos. This makes a robust salsa, heavy on garlic and pretty hot. If you want to avoid garlic breath or don’t like too much heat, reduce the amount accordingly.

5. Add the cumin, paprika, chili powder, and cayenne pepper. Mix.

6. Add the juice from the remaining limes. After each lime, taste to see if the salsa is acidic enough. The amount of lime juice you need can really vary depending on the tomatoes, so just keep adding until it’s tangy and fresh tasting but not sour. Mix.

7. Add the remaining salt one teaspoon at a time and mix. After each teaspoon taste the salsa to see if it needs more salt. I’ve found the salt can vary based on the amount of lime you put in and there’s nothing worse than ruining the salsa at the end with an unnecessary bombardment of salt. It’s also good to do the tasting with the chips you’re going serve with the salsa. If you’ve got a salty batch of chips, the salsa won’t need as much salt.

8. Put the salsa in the fridge for at least two hours and then taste and make any desired tweaks to the seasoning. The taste of the salsa will change substantially in the fridge as the oils from the garlic and jalapenos become fully incorporated into the mix. Expect the salsa to get hotter and more garlicy as it marinates.

Optional additions:

1) Add 1.5 cups black beans for a heartier salsa.
2) Add 1.5 cups corn to add color and sweetness.
3) Add 1 cup grated carrots for sweetness and texture. Carrots are a very nice addition indeed.
4) Add 1 chopped red pepper.
5) Add 2 roasted, skinned and chopped anahiems/new mexico chili peppers or diced chipotles for a smokey goodness. Note: This will add a significant amount of heat, so adjust the fresh jalapenos accordingly.
6) Add 2 minced habanero peppers and enjoy the sweet pain. Note: Unless you want parts of your body other than your mouth to be burning, wear gloves to chop these and be careful not to touch your eyes or nose, or anything else. I speak from experience.

Optional Procedure: Put it all in a food processor for a smooth salsa and less prep time.