By Nathan Smith

I was recently in Stephenville, Texas, eating at a hole-in-the-wall Mexican café with some friends, and we started talking about salsa.

We debated what made a good salsa, how spicy, what color, consistency, etc. After agreeing to disagree, we settled on the fact that salsa was indeed a big part of Texican culture, and we all agreed that Texans know salsa best. After all, we don’t cater to salsa made in New York City!

To most self-respecting Texans, salsa is more than a condiment–it’s a staple. As Dr. Seuss would say, we like it on eggs, we like it on chicken, we like it on the rocks, we like it in a box, we like salsa lots.

As was pointed out in one of our first Texas Table Top posts, I’m a sauce man. I like sauces of all kinds and, for me, it comes down to flavor. Here is the basic idea:

  • Tomatoes: I use peeled canned tomatoes and use most of a large can. Puree to desired consistency.
  • Jalapenos: Two or three gets the fire started. Go from there if needed. Cut to your preference.
  • Onion: Half of one medium-sized onion is enough for me, but if your wife loves you no matter what, put the whole thing in. Dice it up!
  • Garlic Salt:  A little goes a long way.
  • Fresh Garlic: Less is more. Two or three cloves, minced.
  • Cilantro: The more the better–chopped.
  • Fresh Lime: Squeeze in one whole lime. It preserves the flavor without overpowering the mixture with citrus tones.
  • Salt to taste and add a little cracked pepper.

Combine tomatoes, peppers, onion and garlic well. Add the salt, lime, cilantro, garlic salt and cracked pepper and sink chip!

I like to make my own salsa, but if you are looking for something easier, there are some great Texas salsas in local grocery stores across the state.

In Springtown, Burnt Orange Texas Salsa makes a simple but flavorful mix that has the basics down. You can find them scattered around the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

D.L. Jardine’ s in Buda makes some great salsa incorporating several kinds of fruit (including chipotle pineapple and peach),  along with variations of traditional–all with varying degrees of spice.

If you like a strong pepper flavor, look for Five Amigos Fire Roasted Pepper Salsa at the Jefferson General Store in Jefferson. Beware, though; this salsa isn’t for the weak of heart or tongue.

A newcomer to the Texas salsa game is Kylito’s Salsa, based in Lubbock and growing quickly. You can find it in several grocery stores in the Panhandle and West Texas. Kylito’s is making its way south, and the spicy version of the classic recipe will light your world on fire!

Salsa recipes are as diverse as the Lone Star State herself, so if you’ve found a great salsa or make your own, we would love to hear about it! Comment here or email me at Keep it spicy, Texas!