Citizens, Salsa Macha translates as “brave salsa”. The original version is from the Mexican state of Veracruz and traditionally made from its famously deadly-hot wild comapeño chiles.
Sadly, Comapeños are nearly impossible to find outside Veracruz, so I have substituted some fiery pequín chiles instead plus a few other types balanced for heat and flavor. You can, however, easily buy them from here.
Veracruz has a unique history compared to the rest of Mexico. The full name of the state is Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave. Veracruz was named after the city of Veracruz (From Latin Vera Crux, “True Cross”), which was originally called the Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz. The suffix is in honor of Ignacio de la Llave y Segura Zevallos (1818–1863), who was the governor of Veracruz from 1861 to 1862.
The state’s seal was authorized by the state legislature in 1954, adapting the one used for the port of Veracruz and created by the Spanish in the early 16th century. Yango, a city formed by escaped black slaves brought by Colonial Spain, ran to the mountains, escaping plantations and lived with the indigenous people there. The song, La Bamba (or The Captain) was originally sang by these escapees which tormented Mexico City with uprisings and attacks to haciendas leading to the elimination of slavery in this area, years before the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth rock.
The enormous mountain range behind Veracruz lowlands gave rise to independent communities and became home to escaped ex-slaves who mixed with the indigenous people. In the late 1500s more slaves rose and fled to these mountains. The most memorable war, fought by Gaspar Yanga, a slave from Gabon, led to a revolt and a new found mountain civilization. Yango led raids along the Camino Real pass between Veracruz and Mexico City. In January 1609, the Viceroy of Spain sent royal troops to crush Yanga’s rebels.
After negotiations and vicious battles, a truce finally was reached. In 1918, the Yangans agreed to move to a town closer to the lowlands where they could be policed the town of “San Lorenzo de los Negros” was born in Veracruz, officially renamed “Yanga,” in 1956. A visit to Veracruz reveals its African-identity on its denizens skin with its dark, “negrito” tone expose their African roots.
Some Mexicans are unaware or avoid speaking about Afro-descendancy: Afro-Mexican, Afro-mestizo or even “jarocho,” a term used in and outside Veracruz document this blended cultural legacy, showcased in street names, music and food, all culled from its African roots.
The gastronomy of the state is unique in Mexico and mixed Spanish, indigenous, and other influences. From the pre-Hispanic period, the cuisine of the state was unique. The staple triumvirate of corn, beans, and squash was supplemented by tropical fruits, vanilla beans, and an herb called acuyo or hoja santa. Another important native contribution is seafood, which is featured in many dishes such as, arroz a la tumbada and caldo de mariscos (seafood soup).
After the conquest and during the colonial period, many other spices and ingredients were brought and have had a greater influence in the cooking here than in other parts of the country. From Europe, the Spanish brought saffron, parsley, thyme, marjoram, bay laurel, and cilantro as well Asian spices such as cloves, cinnamon, and black pepper.
The Spaniards also brought wheat, rice, almonds, olives and olive oil, garlic, and capers. The latter three are essential ingredients in what is perhaps the most famous specialty of the region, huachinango a la veracruzana, red snapper in a spicy tomato sauce. Caribbean imports such as sugar cane and pineapple were adapted as well as the peanut, brought from Africa by the Portuguese (although the peanut is originally from South America).
As to this particular dish, it is made with roasted chiles, nuts, garlic and herbs plus a whole lot of olive oil and the salsa is delicious served with chips but is especially fantastic served as I have over grilled lamb chops!
Battle on – The GeneralissimoPrint
- ¾ ounce dried chipotle chiles
- ½ ounces dried ancho chiles
- ¼ ounce dried pequín chiles
- ½ ounce dried pasilla chiles
- ⅓ cup mixed skinless almonds and pecans
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
- 2 cups California or Baja olive oil
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon marjoram
- ½ teaspoon thyme
- 8 organic lamb loin chops
- Stem the chiles, then break or cut them open and scrape out most of the seeds then cut into ¼-inch pieces – you will have about 1 cup. (Leave the pequins whole.)
- Heat some of the olive oil in a small skillet on medium high heat and carefully fry chiles in small batches. Take care not to burn the chiles, as this will cause your salsa to take on an unpleasant bitter taste. Remove chiles to a blender jar or small food processor.
- In a large frying pan, combine the nuts, sesame seeds, garlic and oil. Set over medium-high heat and cook until garlic and sesame seeds are golden, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the chiles. Let cool 5 minutes.
- In a small bowl, mix the vinegar with the salt until the salt dissolves, then add it to the pan along with the herbs.
- When the mixture has cooled to room temperature, pour it into the blender or food processor with the chiles and pulse until everything is chopped into small pieces.
- Run the processor for a few seconds until everything is finely chopped—but not pureed. Pour into a jar and store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use.
- Preheat the broiler. Smear 2 tsp of stirred salsa macha on each lamb chop.
- Put the lamb chops on the broiler grill and broil for 4 minutes.
- After 4 minutes, remove from broiler and turn lamb chops adding another 2 tsp of salsa macha to each one. After 4 more minutes, remove from broiler and allow to rest for 3 minutes before serving.
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