It’s one week from the Super Bowl, though that occasion has lost its luster for our house since the Packers were defeated by Atlanta. We will certainly still watch—but mostly for the commercials. We are planning our usual spread of football party food: this simple, fresh Pico de Gallo is present at all of the parties we host at the Frank house, and this year’s Super Bowl will be no exception.
“Pico de Gallo” literally means “rooster’s beak.” There are all sorts of hypotheses about the origins of this name—some quite amusing—but I won’t recount them here…although the one about an owner calming down a fighting rooster by putting its head in his mouth made me giggle. Suffice to say that your guests will be filling their fists with tortilla chips and picking at this fantastic Pico. A LOT.
Assembling the Pico de Gallo
For the veggies, I use three big tomatoes, 2 medium yellow onions, and 3 or 4 jalapeños. The peppers are a matter of preference: you may want your pico milder or spicier, so adjust accordingly. Just start with one: you can always add more later if you’d like, but they’re very hard to take out once they’re in. At this time of year, definitely splurge on good tomatoes. They’re hard to find: make sure that they’re heavy-ripe and actually smell like tomatoes.
Sharpen your knife before you start chopping: nothing is more annoying than squashing tomatoes with a dull knife. I like the veggies cut fairly small so that they’re easy to scoop up and nobody gets blown away with a giant chunk of onion or jalapeño. For all but one of the jalapeños, I seed and remove the membranes. The whitish membranes are the residence of capsaicin, the main source of a pepper’s heat. I add the last jalapeño with seeds and membranes intact.
I have to have cilantro in my pico de gallo: in fact, I slice up a couple of teaspoons of the stems and throw them in as well. (If you’re one of those unfortunate people who have a genetic aversion to cilantro, just leave it out.) The pico de gallo gets extra zip from the addition of rice vinegar along with the traditional lime juice. After that, it’s a simple matter of adding salt and pepper, and then giving the whole thing a mix.
Serving the Pico de Gallo
You want sturdy tortilla chips that can stand up to this chunky pico de gallo. In the picture, I’ve set a bowl of pico de gallo on a plate surrounded by tortilla chips. That’s purely aesthetic: in reality, you’ll want to serve the pico de gallo next to a big bowl of tortilla chips so you don’t have to constantly restock the plate with chips.
The hubster prefers to put about a third of the bag into the bowl at any one time so that the chips don’t get stale. From what I’ve seen, the rate at which the chips are snapped up and dipped into the pico de gallo does not allow for any staleness to set in. But it’s okay: I let Phil babysit the chips.
Leftover pico de gallo is great as a condiment. I’ve eaten it over rice, in quesadillas, or with eggs and a corn tortilla for quick-and-dirty huevos rancheros.
This year’s Super Bowl may be a subdued occasion for us, but we will have awesome snackage for watching this year’s roundup of commercials. Enjoy!
- 3 large tomatoes, diced small
- 2 medium onions, diced small
- 3-4 jalapeño peppers, seeds & membranes removed (or to taste), diced small
- 2 tbsp. rice vinegar
- juice from 1½ limes
- ¾ tsp. salt (or to taste)
- ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup of cilantro, chopped (optional)
- 1 tbsp. cilantro stems, finely minced (optional)
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix. Serve alongside sturdy tortilla chips.