One of the purposes of this blog is to bring attention to anything of a spicy nature sold, and better yet, produced in Oklahoma and the surrounding states, with the intent to encourage further growth in the spicy foods industries in America’s relatively heat-deprived heartland. So, naturally, showcasing spicy products made in Oklahoma would be in keeping with this goal, and I recently came across a salsa made in Oklahoma City by El Rancho Salsa Co. called El Rancho Extra Hot Salsa. I found it at Akin’s Natural Foods in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and to my knowledge, this is the only place it’s sold here in town. My immediate reaction when seeing phrase “Extra Hot” was dubiousness. So many times I’ve seen similar claims and have been let down by mediocre tasting sauces and salsas that do not deliver the goods in flavor and their much-touted heat. And here we have El Rancho’s salsa asserting that it’s “Extra Hot,” with the ingredients (tomatoes, jalapeño peppers, cayenne peppers, garlic, comino [cumin] and salt) continuing to leave me skeptical, to say the least. Although it’s somewhat refreshing that El Rancho’s salsa does not contain vinegar, none of the ingredients would inspire fear in any self-respecting fire-eater (or excitement, because that’s part of what motivates a die-hard chilehead; the anticipation that maybe, just maybe, we’ve gotten ourselves into more than we can handle. In that way, I guess we’re sort of the adrenaline junkies of the “extreme” food world, always searching for that next pulse-pounding taste adventure). But I digress…
Upon removing the lid, I’m immediately hit with an aroma which has a strong resemblance to a chili base, and if the smell is any indicator, it will taste quite savory. I already cannot help but think how terrific this would be on a cheesy omelet. So far so, so good. Now to taste. Dipping the spoon, tasting….tasting…tasting. Hmmmm, I have to admit that my expectations were limited, but this stuff actually tastes really good! You can certainly taste the jalapeño, cayenne and cumin, and, unsurprisingly, they all work together beautifully. El Rancho also has a pleasant, but surprisingly noticeable heat. These earthy, savory flavors would be a suitable addition to chili or any kind of Southwestern-style beef entrée such as tacos, burritos or enchiladas. What’s more, it’s perfect as a dipping salsa, and allows one to get just the right amount on a chip without losing it all, and risking the social awkwardness of a double-dip .
There are many blogs and review sites that measure a product’s value by using rating scales such as 1 out of 5, 1 to 10, and those scales have their advantages. But one simple way I use to determine the value of a product for myself is by asking the question, “Would I buy this again?”. I can say that I would be happy to purchase El Rancho’s salsa again. Besides, it looks like I’ll need to because I almost consumed the entire bottle before I could get any pics for my post.
After trying El Rancho Extra Hot salsa I’m really encouraged that there’s an Oklahoma company that’s trying their hand at spicy foods, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ll come up with next. With the increasing popularity of spicy foods and products around the nation, it appears to be in El Rancho’s best interest to come up with more varieties and hotter salsas, and a successful future for this Oklahoma-based company would seem almost assured. But in the meantime, I’d better grab another jar (Be sure to check out El Rancho’s whole line of salsas here.)
Admittedly, the pic doesn’t do El Rancho’s color, consistency and taste, justice. It has a strong “chili” taste due to the peppers and cumin, which makes it heavenly on omelets. When making omelets, I like to add cheese and a tablespoon or two of corn masa. Together with the light crispiness of the omelet’s outer layer, the masa imparts a taste distinctly reminiscent of hot-buttered popcorn. It’s an interesting and yummy departure from the usual omelet, and with a topping of El Rancho salsa, makes for a unique Southwestern-style riff on a breakfast classic.
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