Find out why things heat up After Midnight for Alabama’s ‘Salsa Guy’
Jimmy Brogden’s award-winning creations have earned him more than a nickname.
Helena’s Jimmy Brogden was simply a hungry man in search of a late-night snack when he concocted his first batch of homemade salsa several years ago. He didn’t use what he calls “frou-frou” ingredients to make it; just fresh-from-the-garden peppers and produce, with a dash of his own chopping and mixing skills.
He thought the salsa turned out well, but when he took it to a company lunch and had numerous people rave about it, he realized he had something special enough to sell. With heaping helpings of support from family, friends and acquaintances fortunate to have sampled his salsa, Jimmy launched After Midnight Salsa Co.
He left his corporate job to focus his full attention on the new business.
“Four years ago, I started selling salsa full-time. I figured if it doesn’t work, I could always get a job with someone else,” he says.
But he hasn’t had to backtrack.
His salsa immediately took off at local farmers’ markets, including the Market at Pepper Place every Saturday almost year-round. Since After Midnight Salsa’s debut, Jimmy also has started selling it at area Piggly Wiggly stores and Fox Valley Mart next door to what was formerly the Restaurant at Fox Valley.
With the motto “The Only Good Thing That Happens ‘After Midnight,’” Jimmy insists there’s at least one flavor of his award-winning salsa for everyone, no matter the time of day.
“Sissy” is the mild tomato-based salsa, followed by “Fire in the Hole” at a medium heat level.
“Lava Joe,” the “overall public favorite,” is reserved for those who can handle a “volcanic” level of heat or need their sinuses cleared.
“Pineapple” pairs perfectly with fish tacos and pork chops.
“Honey Black Bean & Corn” packs flavor without so much punch.
Jimmy uses locally sourced ingredients and accepts occasional “donations” from friends like Jacob Reiche, who recently gave him fresh peppers plucked straight from his garden in North Carolina.
Peppers of varying sizes and in vibrant shades of red, orange, yellow and green fill bags in the commercial kitchen Jimmy leases to make his salsa. Jimmy dunks all ingredients in an organic wash designed to clean the surface of produce naturally. His salsa contains no preservatives, he says.
“We do everything fresh,” he adds. “People like knowing where their food comes from. We weigh everything to the ounce to make sure we can repeat everything that’s done.”
The After Midnight Salsa Co. label was inspired by the view from Jimmy’s house in the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina. A clock in the center, to the left of a crescent is set to 1:11 a.m.
“My business is personal,” he says. “This is my grown man’s lemonade stand, pretty much.”
Pick Your Salsa
A Flavor Guide for After Midnight Salsa Newbies
Sissy – For the mild-mannered taste buds. Also known as the “dinner sauce” you can use to dress up your dinner.
Fire in the Hole – For those who love the heat and good flavor. A definite crowd-pleaser.
Lava Joe – The overall fan favorite that opens up the sweat glands while delivering maximum flavor any salsa aficionado will appreciate. It’s also rumored to alleviate the common cold.
Pineapple – Spread some over your fish tacos, or use it as a marinade for pork chops. If all else fails, just pull out the chips.
Honey Black Bean & Corn – A flavorful blend with a sweet note.
Article by Emily Sparacino; Photos by Kate Sullivan
Originally published in Shelby Living magazine.