A CHARRED SALSA RECIPE

This salsa can be made two ways. One version is chunkier and only uses six ingredients. The second version is smoother, spicier, uses sevenish ingredients, and takes a few more minutes. I prefer this salsa served warm, fresh out of the blender, but the flavors really come together the next day.

Makes about a quart of salsa

5 medium-sized plum or roma tomatoes, cored preferably (about 1 ½ lbs)
½ an onion
1 clove garlic
1 jalapeno or 2 serrano peppers
½ cup cilantro, leaves and stems
1 tbsp lime juice plus more to taste (about half a lime)
½ tsp salt plus more to taste
3 dried chiles (optional)

Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat for five minutes, you want the skillet very hot. If you do not have a cast-iron skillet you can roast the ingredients in an oven set to broil.

Add tomatoes, onion, garlic, and peppers to skillet. Sear all ingredients until they begin to char, rotating and flipping them as necessary. The whole process should take about ten minutes. The garlic will char first, then the onion and peppers, the tomatoes should finish last. It is important to heavily char all the tomatoes, they will release some juice, that is okay.

Place half of the tomatoes, onion, garlic, peppers (with stems removed), cilantro and salt in a blender or food processor. Process on high until mostly smooth. Add remaining tomatoes and process again this time in short bursts (or pulse if using a food processor), be careful not to overprocess, you want some chunks of tomato to remain.

Allow salsa to cool slightly, then pour into a bowl. Stir in lime. Wait five minutes to taste and before adding more salt or lime juice, those ingredients become more pronounced after time and by adding too much at once you risk over seasoning.

Serve with fresh tortilla chips.

Charred Tomato Salsa with Dried Chiles

Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat for five minutes, you want the skillet very hot. If you do not have a cast iron skillet you can roast the ingredients in an oven set to broil.

Add chiles to a dry skillet and toast for about 2 minutes, you want the chiles to soften slightly and begin to brown. Remove chiles from skillet, place in a medium bowl, pour hot water over the chiles, place a smaller bowl or a plate over the chiles so they are submerged. Let chiles sit in water for at least 30 minutes. Then remove chiles from the water, save the water you soaked them in.

Add tomatoes, onion, garlic and peppers to skillet. Sear all ingredients until they begin to char, rotating and flipping them as necessary. The whole process usually takes about ten minutes. The garlic will char first, then the onion and peppers, the tomatoes should finish last. It is important to heavily char all the tomatoes, they will release some juice, that is okay.

Place tomatoes, onion, garlic, peppers (with stems removed), cilantro and salt in a blender or food processor. Add soaked chiles (with stems removed) and ½ cup of their soaking water to blender. Process on high until mostly smooth. Continue adding water until the salsa is to your desired consistency. Keep in mind that adding more chile water will make the salsa spicier, I typically add about 1 cup of the chile water.

Allow salsa to cool slightly, then pour into a bowl. Stir in lime. Wait five minutes to taste and before adding more salt or lime juice, those ingredients become more pronounced after time and by adding too much at once you risk over seasoning.

Serve with fresh tortilla chips.

NOTES

I’m the kind of person that always adds more garlic than the recipe calls for but trust me on this one, if you add too much garlic your salsa might end up tasting more like marinara sauce. If you want a mild version you can seed the fresh peppers before adding them to the blender, just make sure they cool a bit before handling them. In Southern Colorado we’re fortunate to have an abundance of chiles from New Mexico and Colorado, my favorites for this salsa are ancho and guajillo, but whatever chiles you have on hand will work just fine. I save leftover chili water, it’s great to use in combination with some stocks, add it to beans, use it to thin out other sauces, or add it to a soup.

Leave a comment