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RIo Grande/Uncle Julios Salsa

JennyHunter Dec 22, 2006 12:58 AM

Anybody have the recipe for the salsa from the Rio Grande/Uncle Julio's restaurant chain? I've tried several times - but something is missing. I've griiled the tomatoes and peppers and it is still not right. I know longer live close to the restaurant and am really hungry for the salsa!!!

  1. s
    stacylyn Dec 23, 2006 11:26 AM

    Oh, I LOVE their chips and salsa.....I hope someone knows this one!! Happy Holidays.

    1. r
      RDowdle Mar 11, 2008 07:55 AM

      JennyHunter, what recipe have you tried so far?

      Perhaps, if you could post what you've done, I can match it with my notes and come up with a version thats close enough.

      This is NOT a recipe, simply what I was able to taste while carefully examining their salsa. At some point I was going to use my culinary school background to give it a crack. (the question marks were *possible* ingredients other salsas contained)

      Rio grande sala ingredients

      roasted tomatoes
      roasted onions
      chili powder?
      adobo sauce from canned chipolte?
      red pepper or jalepeno
      Lime juice

      Please email me at rodneydowdle@yahoo.com if you or anyone else comes up with a good version. If I can perfect it, I'll post the recipe here.

      Good luck!

      2 Replies
      1. re: RDowdle
        JennyHunter Apr 24, 2008 08:41 PM

        i think for sure it is roasted tomatoes, onion, garlic and jalapenos. And the salt, pepper, cilantro, lime juice and a little sugar are correct too. I never considered adobo sauce, but will give that a try. I think if there is cumin or chile powder it is only a little. But I still think something is missing. I know this is going to sound crazy, but sometimes it seems a little bubbly, so even tried adding a little beer but that was an absolute disaster. I would love to figure it out, but have resigned myself to the fact that I will by it by the gallon when I'm in town and eat it until I am sick!

        1. re: JennyHunter
          Fackunda Dec 19, 2008 06:18 AM

          I think you are both on to something. But I think the difference you are tasting is in the lime. I believe it is lemon and not lime. Lemon has a sweeter taste to it.

          Other than that, maybe the trick would be going there and playing off some fake alergies and ask the waiter to tell you what's in the salsa because you have alergies. Has anyone tried that yet?

      2. c
        cnutkrn Jan 29, 2009 09:53 AM

        burn 4 medium tomatoes, half a white onion, and a jalepeno in a cast iron skillet until 60-80% burnt.

        place all ingredients in blender with 2 tbls black pepper, 1/2 tbls garlic powder, and salt and cilantro to taste.

        blend until desired consistency.

        almost exact.

        9 Replies
        1. re: cnutkrn
          Fackunda Feb 7, 2009 01:30 PM

          cnutkrn, have you really tried that? What did you use for juice? Lemon or Lime?

          1. re: Fackunda
            cnutkrn Feb 8, 2009 06:39 AM

            i probably make a batch a week, its pretty addictive. i do neither and it comes out almost identical. give it a try though, id love to know the results.

            1. re: cnutkrn
              bsrigley Apr 20, 2009 07:08 PM

              Thanks, cnutkrn! I tried this recipe this weekend and it's amazing! I added a couple cloves of garlic in mine instead of the garlic powder and it's really nice. I don't think lime would be appropriate, though. Make sure you burn the veggies just as cnutkrn wrote - it makes a huge difference. My first batch wasn't quite burnt enough but this one is and it's much better.

              1. re: bsrigley
                cnutkrn Apr 24, 2009 10:46 AM

                No problem. The garlic sounds like a good idea. Did you burn it, or just throw it in the blender?

                1. re: cnutkrn
                  bsrigley Apr 30, 2009 04:41 PM

                  I just threw it in the blender along with the cooked veggies. I'm trying to think of some variations. I might try the lime next time.

                  You're right, though. It's completely addictive! It's so fresh and natural-tasting. And it's just like Uncle Julio's. I've been trying it with low-fat Triscuits instead of tortilla chips because they have so many calories and fat. It's still pretty good.

                  1. re: bsrigley
                    cnutkrn May 7, 2009 09:48 AM

                    sounds good

              2. re: cnutkrn
                SouthDavis Jul 14, 2009 12:54 PM

                cnutkrn and / or Fackunda -

                1. Did y'all use any oil in the skillet to burn them in?
                2. What size white onion and jalapeno?
                3. How burned and on all sides??

                1. re: SouthDavis
                  cnutkrn Aug 18, 2009 10:21 AM

                  i dont use any oil. I mean an average white onion is fine. For the jalepeno it really depends how spicy you like it. You kinda have to play with the recipe to see exactly how you like it. 20 - 30 minutes is usually a good amount of time to burn it. Less if your using cast iron. You want it about 60%-80% burnt. Definitly use an old pan though.

            2. re: cnutkrn
              cdoug88 Oct 26, 2010 08:07 AM

              cnutkrn, how much hot sauce do these proportions make? I am thinking about trying this sometime this week.

            3. v
              Vera Aug 19, 2009 04:17 PM

              Remember that Uncle Julio/Rio Grande serves their salsa warm. I think that really brings out more flavor. I could take a straw and sip their salsa - I love it. Since I'm quite a drive to the closest Uncle Julio, when I'm in NoVa, I just stop buy and buy a quart to bring home. And their thin chips are addictive too.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Vera
                kristen3 Mar 3, 2010 03:52 PM

                I tried this tonight, and it was delicious! But I have a couple of technical questions...

                Did you seed the jalepeno or core the tomatoes? How high a heat do you use for the pan?

                When I made this, the tomato skins burst as soon as they started charring, and the skins stuck to the pan and became a big burnt mess. Then the skin-less tomatoes never really got burnt or charred. Did I do something wrong?

                1. re: kristen3
                  Perilagu Khan Mar 3, 2010 05:17 PM

                  Broil instead of pan roast?

                  I've not made the recipe and so have no real clue. Just a thought.

                  1. re: kristen3
                    cnutkrn Oct 5, 2010 10:32 AM

                    i dont seed the jalepeno's and all i do is just core the top of the tomato. i use a teflon pan on medium high heat until well burnt. the skin will occasionally stick but it usually dosent get too bad.

                2. r
                  rebeltruce Jun 9, 2010 12:43 PM

                  Here is my recipe for Rio grand Cafe Salsa. I think it almost perfect.......

                  RIO GRAND SALSA

                  16- Medium sized garden fresh tomato's (I used Roma, and a few beefsteaks, cuz that's what were ready to pick from my garden Saturday)

                  2- Medium sized onions (I used Vidalia, cuz that's what I had on hand)

                  1- Large Jalapeno

                  2- small Serrano peppers

                  1/2- Cup chopped Cilantro

                  4- big cloves of garlic

                  Juice of one lime


                  Fresh ground Black Pepper (I think one of the keys is to use a good amount of black pepper)

                  Build a fire a fire using lump charcoal. I threw several hunks of hickory into the chimney starter with the lump charcoal. light it and let it ash over like you would if you were grilling. Dump the coals out into a pile.

                  Start with the peppers....throw them right on the coals and let them char, I mean really char!

                  Put them in a Ziploc or some other container and seal them up so the steam for 10 minutes or so. Just like roasting any other pepper peel them and remove the seeds chop them coarsely, and set them aside

                  Cut the onions in half, and peel the paper off of them and throw them into the coals next. Let them get black all over really let them char. Remove them coarsely chop them and set them aside with the peppers.

                  Now the tomato's same thing throw them in the coals and let them get black all over, remove them core them and coarsely chop them.

                  Do the same thing with the garlic, leave the skin on to protect the cloves a bit, but get them nice and black.

                  Now everything goes into the food processor, be sure and add all of the juices that have accumulated. Pulse until it reaches a nice sort of chunky consistency, If you've had the Rio Grand Salsa you'll have a good idea of what it should look like.

                  Put the Salsa into a large bowl and add the lime juice, cilantro, salt to taste, and a good amount of fresh ground pepper. Taste, add more lime juice if you'd like....and enjoy.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: rebeltruce
                    alkapal Jun 19, 2010 05:34 PM

                    that sounds good -- and now i'm hungry!

                  2. s
                    stephenpremo Mar 7, 2011 08:19 AM

                    I've moved from northern Virginia to Minneapolis, where the nearest Rio Grande is in Chicago.

                    A couple weeks ago, I decided to throw a taco party, and I stumbled upon a salsa recipe that, with a few tweaks, duplicated-- and I mean duplicated--Rio Grande's salsa. You can imagine my giddiness.

                    NOTE: Accompany with XOCHITL tortilla chips to complete the Rio Grande experience. Your typical grocery store may have them. If not, Whole Foods carries them.

                    The original recipe is here:

                    My version looks like this:
                    3-4 Roma tomatoes
                    2 small campari tomatoes (optional--I don't think they made much of a difference
                    )3-4 tomatillos
                    2 jalapeños (and maybe just the juice of a third to get the kick just right)
                    1 red onion, sliced
                    2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled
                    1/2 punch of cilantro, roughly chopped
                    1/2 lime, juiced
                    Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste

                    Place tomatillos, tomatoes, garlic, jalepenos, and onion under a broiler. Char the vegetables, turning them periodically.

                    Throw charred vegetables, cilantro, salt, and pepper in a blender. Tweak flavors until you get them just right.

                    I added a bit of sugar (maybe a tablespoon or two), but it didn't seem to make much of a difference either way.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: stephenpremo
                      alkapal Mar 8, 2011 05:46 AM

                      thanks for that. throwing all in the processer with the charred skins seems like it would duplicate that wonderful deep flavor that we know and adore.

                      1. re: alkapal
                        stephenpremo Mar 8, 2011 03:55 PM

                        Sure thing. Now, does anyone know a recipe for their steak fajitas?

                        1. re: stephenpremo
                          alkapal Mar 8, 2011 11:49 PM

                          oh yeeeeaaaaahhhhhh! i want that, too. i know butter is melted on top!

                          1. re: stephenpremo
                            cnutkrn Mar 30, 2011 08:03 PM

                            skirt/flank steak marinaded in soy sauce, pineapple juice and water. mesquite grilled high heat

                            1. re: stephenpremo
                              ultimatecookiejar Aug 27, 2011 05:07 PM

                              Hi Steph,
                              Here is a good recipe for Steak Fajitas

                              Mix together in a bowl:
                              1 cup soy sauce
                              1/4 cup honey
                              1 Tbls. Worchestetshire sauce
                              1 tea. minced garlic
                              1 tea. ground ginger
                              1 cup water

                              In a appropriate size dish, place a 2 lb. sirloin or flank steak. (I like the Flank Steak). Pour sauce (reserve 1/4 cup) over the steak. Cover, and allow to marinate overnite.
                              Drain meat and slice into thin strips. Heat skillet over medium high.

                              Add drained meat and heat.

                              1 red bell pepper, cut in thin strips
                              1 green pepper, cut in thin strips
                              1 onion, thinly sliced

                              Stir fry just until meat is done, adding seserved marinade as needed to prevent sticking.
                              Serve with warm tortillas

                          2. re: stephenpremo
                            lalajane Mar 4, 2012 09:58 AM

                            I also wanted to say that those XOCHITL chip really are great, and the closest thing I have ever had to the UJ chips. I don't buy any other tortilla chips anymore.

                            But I didn't like the blue corn version.They had a weird taste. They tasted to me like potato chips.

                            They also sell them at Wegmans.

                          3. l
                            lalajane Mar 4, 2012 09:55 AM

                            It seems really hard for me to believe that an ex employee hasn't yet leaked the actual recipe somewhere. In my area, the UJ's seem to have extremely high turnover. Maybe that is less true among the kitchen staff, but i cannot believe it hasn't happened yet.

                            Also, the recipe for their beef fajita marinade.

                            I was at the UJ/RG in reston a few days ago and the salsa was made PERFECT that day. Not always the case. but when it is made properly, it is so good!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: lalajane
                              alkapal Mar 14, 2012 12:55 PM

                              i think the most important part to the salsa is the charring of the tomatoes and chiles.

                              it is a great salsa…and it is equally good with the original ninfa's on navigation in houston. sometimes, it is better. i just wish rio grande would do the ninfa's green sauce, too.

                              1. re: alkapal
                                lalajane Mar 15, 2012 08:32 AM

                                I agree about the charring. The more, the better. And also not too chunky or too liquid-y. If the tomatoes and peppers aren't roasted enough, UJ salsa is blah.

                                Love a good green tomatillo, but I am far more picky about those. I do happen to like the green tomatillo at Chipotle. I haven't yet come across a jar version for home use that I like.

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