“Family Meal” is a common tradition in the restaurant world. Around 4 o’clock every day, cooks are sitting down together for their pre-service meal. Don’t be confused, though. It’s not social hour, it’s not relaxing, it’s more like ‘how fast can I scarf this down so that I can get back to my station to finish the 2500 things I need to do before service starts in 1.5 hours’. That’s more like it. It is also not a meal for the picky palate… nope, we don’t eat samplings of that’s night special or the new summer squash that just came from the local farmer. At least not at most restaurants. Family meal is conglomeration of left overs…left overs from past dishes, unused party food, greens on their way out of the door, you get the picture.
At Rouge Tomate, we had a “family shelf”. This is where all left overs/old food was placed, anything on that shelf was free game for family meal. Each station was in charge of a certain part of the meal… Pasta cooks always made the starch, Pastry always made dessert, Garde Manger always made a salad. Most days, I would chop a few vegetables and toss them into greens, whisk together a quick salad dressing 5 minutes before 4:00. I must say, I became very good at improvising yummy vinaigrettes.
On the rare day, though, I had time to put thought and effort into what I made. One of these days came on “Taco Family Meal” day, and I spent my spare time during service chopping a few things to make salsa. The flavor was good! So I asked one of the sous chefs to have a taste and critique it. He took a spoonful, thought about it for a moment, and said “this is good! you’re on to something.” This might have been one of my proudest moments at Rouge Tomate…
This is restaurant-style salsa, with a little bit of a twist. Serve it at a party and I promise, you will be wishing you had made 2 batches!
1 can Whole Tomatoes
2 TBSP Dark Brown Sugar
Juice of 2 Limes
3-5 Garlic Cloves
1/2 Bunch Cilantro
1.5 Cups Pineapple, small diced
1 tsp honey
1 tsp Kosher Salt, plus more
1/2 tsp Black Pepper, plus more
*1 jalapeno = mild; 2 jalapenos = medium/spicy
Preheat oven to 500F. Drain tomatoes, reserving tomato juice. Split tomatoes and scrape out seeds. Lay flat on a foil-lined jelly-roll pan. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over tomatoes and roast for 20 minutes, or until tomatoes are charred and there is only a little bit of juice. Set aside to cool.
On grill pan or stove top, grill jalapenos until charred on all sides. Once cooled, peel and remove seeds. If you prefer spicy salsa, save a couple of seeds for your salsa.
Using the food processor, blend reserved tomato juice, garlic, lime juice, cilantro, jalapeno, honey, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Blend until mixture is only slightly chunky, making sure that there are no large bits of garlic.
Add roasted tomatoes and pulse 5-10 times. Salsa should be chunky.
Pour mixture into a large mixing bowl, fold in pineapple, and season with salt and lime juice. Chill and serve!
*Side note – I love using pineapple in salsa, but you can use any fruit you choose! I’ve tried watermelon, mango, peaches… be creative!