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Saturday, June 9, 2012

¡Salpicón! Spicy Mexican Shredded Beef Salad

                                                                       Salpicón de Res (Beef Salpicon)                    Photograph by Zachary Popovsky

¡Salpicón!  Spicy Mexican Shredded Beef Salad
by Victoria Challancin

Some of you may know salpicon as a French dish of cold chopped cooked ingredients bound by some sort of vinaigrette.  And it certainly is.  In France it is often used as a stuffing to fill canapés, roulades, rissoles, croquettes, tartlets, timbales, and even in omelettes. Usually, the dish is savory, being made of meats, poultry, seafood, or vegetables, but also it can be a sweet dish of chopped fruits and nuts.  The key to understanding the term, though, is that it generally refers to a dish of cooked, chopped ingredients bound by a sauce.

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.

Recipe:  Salpicón
Spicy Mexican Shredded Beef Salad
(Recipe by Marcela Valladolid, from her book Fresh Mexico)
Yield:  12 servings
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
24 tostadas
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

Parting Shot:
 A touch of color and fun, at the ranch of friends

©Victoria Challancin.  All Rights Reserved.

Remember that like life, recipes are meant to be shared, but please ask permission before using text and photos.  Thanks!


Hotly Spiced said...

This looks so lovely and refreshing and I'm sure this would be wonderful served on a hot day or warm evening. Love the avocado! xx

Minnie(@thelady8home) said...

Perfect for summers. I am sure this can be made replacing beef with chicken?

Coffee and Crumpets said...

I could've used this today! It was 95 degrees in Denver!
Sounds so cool and refreshing and I really like beef salads. Makes a pretty presentation too.

Eha said...

I just have to think of the 'KISS' principle here [hoping you will not misunderstand!] and the thickness [or not] of my pocketbook :) ! What a fabulous recipe, easily made over a two-day period, to be used in so many different ways :) ! In a humorous mood perchance, love the somewhat 1960s retro martini-glass offering! Gorgeously fun!! Methinks I'll reach for a mountain wrap, stuff it and thoroughly enjoy whilst walking in the garden!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

This sounds delicious, like pulled pork but the beef version. We love pulled pork here so I think we'd love this! :D

Victoria at Flavors of the Sun said...

Minnie, this certainly could be maid with chicken. Shrimp??? Mmmmmm..

alcuban said...

Victoria: Cubans have a version of salpicón also; it's called "ropa vieja", and it's just eaten with rice as a main course. Your version sounds more versatile. Thanks.


Victoria at Flavors of the Sun said...

Dear "Alcuban," I grew up in South Florida and know Ropa Vieja well. But it is nice to be reminded. I should have remembered that lovely dish when I wrote this post!

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

Your dish brought back memories of when I lived in the Dominica Republic. Most of the salpicon I had there was made with seafood...usually crab. I think your beef version would be terrific.

Nancy said...

I had no idea that salpicon was also a French term and food. Yours looks so delicious and yes on top of tostadas sound perfect. What at great recipe for summer. Thanks for sharing Victoria!

Devaki said...

I love your vast knowledge and appreciation for world cooking. I am so glad I stopped by. Everything looks real and authentic which impresses me no end :)

chow :) Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

Victoria at Flavors of the Sun said...

Thanks you so much for that thoughtful comment, Devaki. Much appreciated--as are all comments, of course But I am glad you like the "world" aspect of my food in general. Thanks for stopping by.

Quick Recipes said...

This salad taste soo yummy with pickle also ! :)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

That looks mighty delicious! A wonderful salad for the hot summer days.



Yvette ~ Muy Bueno said...

YUM! Can you believe I have NEVER made Salpicon? I'm so inspired to make it now. Gracias!

Lucas @ said...

Highly inspirational.

Salpicón looks to be a foreign cousin to the German Wurstsalad which is a Boxing Day staple at my in-laws' house.