Salpicón de Res (Beef Salpicon) Photograph by Zachary Popovsky
¡Salpicón! Spicy Mexican Shredded Beef Salad
by Victoria Challancin
But where I live, in Mexico, the dish takes on a new life. With that dash of Latin flair, a salpicón becomes something truly special, rich with chiles, avocado, tomato, and onions, spiked with lemon or vinegar. I have heard the word salpicón translated as a "hodgepodge" or "jumble," which makes sense. Most recipes are a jumble of freshly prepared ingredients with bright, refreshing flavors.
Throughout Central and South America countless versions of salpicón can be found. Fish (smoked or not), crab, beef, venison, fruit, octopus, and more star in the Latino recipes. Served either on a tostada, a toasted corn tortilla, as in the above photo, or on a platter, perhaps on a bed of pretty lettuces as a salad, any way you eat it, salpicón, is interesting and fun.
Cook's Notes: I actually tested this recipe for a Food Network episode. I chose to use quite a bit less oregano than the original recipe, but that, of course, is up to you. I also only could find at the time a beef brisket intended for making corned beef (it came with the "corning" spices in a pouch). For this reason, I think the meat is a bit pinker than is usual; nevertheless, it tasted absolutely delicious. Serve it on tostados or not--it is a beautiful salad, when nicely garnished, for the table or a buffet spread. You could also serve it with a homemade hot sauce, which would be even better. I also have added a couple of minced chiles chipotles in adobo sauce for a little kick.
Tip: To shred, use two forks. Also, if letting the meat cool in the cooking liquid makes you nervous, as it does me, simply chill it quickly by first filling plastic bottles with water and freezing them. Just drop the bottle or bottles into the hot liquid for a rapid cooling. Letting the meat rest in the cooled liquid keeps it really moist, but you can also accomplish this in the refrigerator once the liquid is cool enough to put there.
Spicy Mexican Shredded Beef Salad
Yield: 12 servingsMeat:
2 pounds boneless beef brisket
1 large onion, quartered
1 tablespoon salt
3/4 cup olive oil
6 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup minced red onion
2 tablespoons crumbled dried oregano (I only used 1 teaspoon)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped seeded tomato
1 cup chopped, seeded, and peeled cucumber
1/2 cup capers, drained
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 radishes, finely chopped
3 avocados, halved, petted, peeled and sliced
Bottled hot sauce (recommedned: Huichol)
Put the brisket in a large pot and add enough water to cover the meat by 2 inches. Add the onion pieces and 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium and simmer, partially covered, for 2 1/2 hours, or until the brisket is very tender adding more water if needed to keep the meat covered.
Remove the pot from the heat and let the brisket cool to room temperature in the cooking liquid (see the tip on rapid cooling above). Drain the brisket, discard the water, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the brisket. This can be made one day ahead.
Meanwhile, prepare the vinaigrette by whisking the olive oil, vinegar, lime juice, red onion, and oregano in a medium bowl. Season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper, to taste.
Shred the cooled brisket into a large bowl. Add the tomato, cucumber, capers, cilantro, and radishes. Toss to combine. Add the vinaigrette and toss to coat. Season the salad with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Spoon enough beef salad on a tostada to cover and then garnish with avocado slices. Serve with hot sauce.
Ways to Use Salpicón:
- Serve it in a chilled martini glass, sprinkled with chopped radishes, avocado, and cilantro
- Serve on a bed of pretty lettuce or a mixture of lettuces--add some sprightly watercress to the mix
- Serve in a shallow pasta plate over a puddle of spicy, tomatoey chilled gazpacho
- Serve in avocado halves
- Serve as a dip (mince the meat instead of shredding it) with totopos, or corn chips
- Use it as a stuffing for gorditas or tiny prepared phyllo cups (or other cups made of mini tortillas or puff pastry
- Top guacamole with some salpicón
- Make wraps using either tortillas or lettuce (or kale) leaves
- Serve it on rounds of thinly sliced, well-chilled jícama
- On crostini, as a lively bruschetta? You bet!
- Use it as a filling for belle peppers or roasted, peeled poblano peppers
- A bit of crumbled queso fresco or feta or cotija would be nice on top as well
- Missing garlic? Me too. I would add a bit to the vinaigrette.
- Make a timbal using ramekins. Layer with different colored tomato slices and the salpicón mixture
- Use your imagination--this is such a cool, refreshing summertime dish
A touch of color and fun, at the ranch of friends
©Victoria Challancin. All Rights Reserved.
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