I was in need of some Cinco de Mayo inspiration, so I busted out the most appropriate book in my collection—Robb Walsh's The Tex-Mex Grill and Backyard Barbacoa Cookbook. Flipping through the pages, nothing was grabbing my attention, until I reached a recipe almost the very end—"Ancho-Raisin Salsa."
Thinking of a salsa primarily as a dip for tortilla chips, this sauce doesn't fit the bill. Instead, it's a deeply earthy sauce that's made from first steeping an ancho chile and raisins in coffee, all then pureed with a little bit of cocoa powder. Next, onions are sauteed and the ancho mixture is added back in along with garlic, vinegar, and Worcestershire.
The resulting medium-thick sauce had incredible character—it possessed a rich complexity that started off with an earthy and slightly bitter bite, which then combined with a fruity sweetness and a little tanginess. Though not a dipping kind of salsa, the flavors of this ancho-raisin sauce were well-matched to a beefy and hearty grilled skirt steak, and even better when that steak was piled into flour tortillas and enjoyed as fajitas.
About the author: Joshua Bousel brings you new, tasty condiment each Wednesday and a recipe for weekend grilling every Friday. He also writes about grilling and barbecue on his blog The Meatwave whenever he can be pulled away from his grill.