Yes, I created my own salsa.
I’m calling it “Billy Dobbs Rough Stock Salsa,” and the consensus — that would be me, my wife, and my youngest son, a fellow foodie — gives it thumbs up.
Here’s how I got there and how you, too, can make it.
Why a salsa?
Over the years, visiting Texas has given me a true appreciation of salsa, both verde y roja. Pico de gallo…eh, not so much. Queso? Sure, but my stomach tomorrow shows my enjoyment today. Mamacita’s green “salsa”? You bet! But I made that once off a bootleg recipe I found online, and boy does it use a lot of garlic. And sour cream or cream cheese and whatever, so it was like having Zabar’s in my Mexican food.
More recently, I came across McKinney-based Bernard’s Gourmet Foods and its variety of Texas-made salsas, created by Chief Salsa Officer David Bernard, and well marketed by Michele Bernard.
I learned that their salsas don’t contain water or other ingredients (tomato paste) that are fillers. They roast their vegetables to add sweetness. My favorite is their tomatillo, which I made when I first moved to Texas.
So I set out to make my own.
Never figuring it would be difficult, since I kinda knew how things taste when smashed together, I set out to create a sauce to give you a kick in the back of the throat, rebounding into a great big smile on your lips.
What’s in a name?
My salsa is called, “Billy Dobbs Rough Stock Salsa.”
“Salsa” is self evident. I mean, if I called it “Billy Dobbs Rough Stock Shoes,” most people wouldn’t eat it.
“Billy Dobbs” is a family name. In fact, it’s my family. In fact, it was part of my name at birth: “William Dobbs ____.” And “Billy Dobbs” almost sounds Texan. Or least Alabama, which is where my birth mother’s family hails from.
About “rough stock.”
You see, I couldn’t name it “Howard’s Salsa.” We’ve already established that. I could certainly create something like “Howard’s Real New York Bagels” or “Freeman Quick Falafel Mix,” or “Pizza by Howie, Yo.” Yeah. Those don’t really do it for me. (Though before long I’m gonna derive my own bagels, because you can’t get good ones here. Pizza is found at Home Slice in Austin.)
I wanted a name that would yell, “TEXAS!” And since I don’t have any Texas creds, I needed something to represent that for me.
What about something related to rodeos? Yeah! That was it. Rodeos.
So I Googled “rodeo terms.” Seriously. I did. Don’t tell anybody. And among those terms is “rough stock.”
This refers to the rodeo events that involve bucking horses and bulls.Ram NCFR
What could be more rodeo than riding a bull or bucking bronco bareback and having to hold on by one hand, never being allowed to touch the animal with the other or face disqualification. (Hence the raised opposite arm.)
And so there you have it: Billy Dobbs Rough Stock Salsa.
I’m unsure about the hyphenation of Billy and Dobbs and whether to put an apostrophe after Dobbs to indicate possession. But as I follow the Chicago Manual of Style (for the most part), I’d also have to add another “s” — Dobbs’s — and then people would all be slurring their words when saying the name. So much so that they’d be embarrassed that others would think they drank too much tequila the night before. See? It would be a total disaster.
That one extra “s.”
How it’s made
You’ve waited long enough.
Let me share the recipe and directions.
First, here is a look at my process: I took several recipes I’ve either used or which looked good and compared them on an Excel spreadhseet. (Yup, I seriously did that.)
Second, I removed any obviously non-salsa ingredients (e.g. bell peppers, after momentarily seeing that this was unique and therefore worthy of considering). I coded in yellow those items that I thought would taste good together, including one recipes use of sugar (I used Texas honey). I coded in green those items that appeared in all recipes, so that I would not overlook the basics. There were only three:
- cilantro (not used in many salsa, oddly enough; it’s what gives salsa that “fresh” feel, like you could eat it for the entire Super Bowl)
Third, I had to put these together and add some things I thought would taste good. I also wanted to add some ingredients that would give this first go-round some real heat. So instead of serrano chiles accompanying the jalapeños, I used habanero chiles. I also left the seeds in both, so the kick was close to knock-out strength yet not overpowering.
H-E-B was selling Carolina Reaper and Ghost Peppers, but I thought I might not get repeat customers if I used those.
Fourth, an important step that I learned — referenced above about Bernard’s — is that I wanted to roast the tomatoes. So I did.
Below are the ingredients and recipe.
INGREDIENTS – Yields 8-10 cu.
7 tomatoes, preferably vine-ripened, but Roma are ok, roasted
1 green tomato, roasted
1/2 red onion, diced
3 medium-sized habanero peppers, retain seeds, diced
2 jalapeño peppers, retain seeds, diced
2 garlic cloves, roasted then minced
cilantro, to taste, but no less than 1 cu.
juice and pulp of 2 limes
2 tsp real Texas honey
1 tsp cumin, and to taste
1/2 tsp cayenne, and to taste
3 tsp salt, and to taste
white pepper, to taste
- Pre-heat oven to 450.
- (wash all vegetables).
- Remove garlic cloves from skin.
- Place tomatoes (green and red) and garlic on cookie sheet.
- Roast tomatoes (green and red) and garlic for 20-25 minutes, until slightly withered.
- While tomatoes are roasting, dice peppers and onion.
- Remove tomatoes and cool under cold water. Remove garlic.
- Remove tomato skins.
- Mince garlic.
- In blender or food processor on pulse setting, puree 2 tomatoes. (I might change this to a coarser setting next time; tomatoes came out a bit too runny.)
- Add peppers and garlic and continue pulse-puree until mixed. DON’T over-blend.
- Add remaining 6 tomatoes and 1/2 of your cilantro.
- Blend together.
- Add 1/2 your onions.
- On pulse-stir setting, mix together.
- Add remaining onion and cilantro and pulse-stir.
- Add spices, salt and pepper, and pulse-stir.
- Melt honey slightly to a runny consistency, and add.
- Add lime juice with pulp and more salt if needed.
- Pulse-stir. MAKE SURE NOT TO OVER-BLEND, or you will get homogenous red soup.
- Chill mixture for an hour or more.
- Keeping fire extinguisher nearby, enjoy responsibly.