Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Salsa Your Mouth Can Dance To

I'm a huge salsa fan!  I can't eat it out of a can or a jar though, there's just some sort of weird "processed" taste going on that tastes like the inside of a jar.  I can't explain it.  It's the same weird processed taste that I sense when I eat Queso Cheese dip out of a jar, or soup out of a can.  Ick.  I don't know what's going on over at Old El Paso, Pace, or all the other places that try to capture fresh Mexican "goodness" in a jar, but they need some serious help.

In the mean time, we're left to our own devices if we want good salsa for our chips, burritos, eggs, tacos, etc.  Growing up in Texas, it seemed like every family I knew had a secret recipe for their salsa.  To that I say, "Bueno!"  Far from me to insinuate in the least that mine is better.  You go on with your secret, and keep on doing what you've been doing.  Now, for those of us who don't have gardens full of tomatillos and cilantro, I am willing to share my own recipe for salsa that is so good, it rivals restaurant salsa, so easy you can assemble it all without so much as a knife, and so fast, you can jar up over a gallon of the stuff, less than an hour after you decide you want some!

"It can't be," You say?  "Yes, it can," I say!

Here's what you need:
  •  4 Tbsp white vinegar (I put this in bold because it's easy to forget, but it's IMPORTANT for germ killing and for pickling everything together)
  • 10 Mason Jars or roughly enough containment to hold what you see above
  • 8 Big Fat Green Tomatillos (peel off the "paper" skin)
  • 8 Roma Tomatoes
  • 1 medium yellow onion, cut into 1/4ths
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into 1/4ths
  • 1 bundle of cilantro
  • 1/2 head of garlic (peeled)
  • 3 14oz cans tomato sauce
  • 1 32oz can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 whole jar of pickled jalapeno slices (plus the juice)
  • Juice of 4 fresh limes
  • salt/pepper to taste
EITHER (The easy option):
  • -2 Fresh whole Jalapeno peppers
  • -1 Fresh whole Poblano pepper
OR (For more smokey flavor, but harder to obtain):
  • -4 Rehydrated Chipotle peppers
  • -1 Fresh whole Anaheim pepper
Wash everything that's fresh, and cut out the stems and onion butts.  Take all of these ingredients, and dump them into a food processor or a blender.  Blend the crap out of it until you obtain this consistency:

You're done!

You may need to work in smaller batches if your blender doesn't hold more than a gallon!  :)  Just make sure each small batch you work with has some liquid (tomato juice, jalapeno jar juice, etc) as well as some chunks (1/2 an onion or whatever).  Don't worry if your intermediate batches are pink or frothy looking... as long as you dump them all into a huge bowl and stir it when you're done, you'll be good to go.

What's a Tomatillo?  Third cousin to the tomato, tomatillos are bright green in color and bring a very nice "tart" flavor to the party.  Look for tomatillos that still have the paper husk around them.  The best ones have just started to split through their husks like the one pictured here.  They should be bright green and firm, and larger than ping-pong balls.  "Plum sized" is good.  Peel the paper husk off and toss your tomatillos into the blender.  Your hands will get sticky, it's just part of the "baggage" that these little green guys bring with them.  Just rinse and carry on!

What about the "More Smokey Flavor" pepper option?
There's no mystery behind a Chipotle Chili.  It's simply a Jalapeno Pepper that someone left out on the smoker to slowly cook it and dry it out.  If you can find a handful of shriveled up dried out Chipotles, soak them in hot water for a few hours to rehydrate them and use them!  The added smoke flavor you'll get in your salsa will mystify those who consume it.  It's worth the effort to find them.  I'd shy away from canned Chipotles in Adobo sauce though, those bring some fairly bitter flavors to another wise "sweet heat" kind of salsa.

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