Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cooked Salsa #1

After giving away the majority of the tomatoes from our garden this year, and then realizing that we're on the downhill slide of the crop, I decided to try my hand at a batch of cooked salsa for the first time. The simplicity of prep appeals to me, plus it's a great way to reduce a whole lot of produce down into a flavorful concentrated pot of deliciousness. Like most salsas, this is an inexact science. I am giving you the concept, you can do with it what you like. I opted to grill a lot of the peppers for an extra kick of flavor, and I would definitely do that again. It also happens to reduce the spiciness of the hot ones, so I found myself adding spice back in with chipotle chili flakes and raw fresh peppers. It still turned out to be a low-medium heat over all, a characteristic of cooked salsas that's difficult to overcome short of adding a habanero. I also cooked mine for a while because I prefer it to be on the thicker side - none of this watery soupy stuff for me, thank you. Alan deemed it to be "very good", and took most of it to work to gain popularity among his coworkers. I plan on trying another batch soon.

2 gallons whole roma tomatoes, pulp and seeds removed and coarsely chopped
1 dozen jalapeno peppers
5 anaheim chili peppers
3 bell peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
10 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
3 large shallots or 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
3 limes
2 T. sugar
2 T. salt (may need more, taste at the end and add if necessary)
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
1 T. chipotle chili flakes or 1/2 T. chipotle chili powder (adjust according to taste and heat preference)

Place the tomatoes in a large stockpot and bring them up to a simmer over medium heat. Meanwhile, grill the jalapenos and anaheim peppers until lightly charred and on all sides. Remove them to a plate and allow them to cool for a few minutes before removing the core and seeds, then coarsely chopping and adding them to the pot. Add the bell peppers, garlic, and shallots to the pot, along with the sugar and salt, give it a good stir and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. Squeeze the three limes in, then use an immersion blender to pulse it until it forms a sloppy and slightly chunky puree. Add the chipotle and fresh cilantro, and adjust the salt if needed. If you want more heat, puree 3-4 fresh jalapenos with a cup of the salsa in a separate container and stir it in. Ladle into containers and allow to cool at room temperature for an hour or so before refrigerating. You may hot water bath can this, or it'll keep in your fridge for up to 3 weeks.

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