I threw out my back in the shower this morning, so, in case anyone wonders why I have one shaved leg and one hairy leg, there’s your story. This doesn’t have anything to do with salsa. I took a Flexeril.
I have a strange relationship with salsa. First of all, it’s rough on the ol’ Crohn’s. All those vegetable skins, I guess. Secondly, jarred and “fresh” salsa from the store all contain sodium benzoate, which I can taste because I have some kind of pointless supertasting skill just for sodium benzoate. If god has a purpose for each of us, then mine is to detect the presence of preserving salts, I guess. The last thing is that salsa is always so much better in a restaurant than when made at home. This¹ always intrigues me.
But! Mike the Viking used to use his powers of pillaging for delivering Mexican food from a restaurant in Olympia that had the best salsa ever, in spite of or perhaps because of the rest of the food sucking balls. And he told me: they roast it. Their secret was an even ratio of red bell peppers to tomatoes, and the peppers all get roasted until black and toasty. The part I can’t bring myself to comply with is that they used canned tomatoes, which is insane, but also makes sense considering that tomatoes don’t really exist in the Pacific Northwest.
My recipe still isn’t exactly right – I think I tend to under-roast the peppers out of fear of over-roasting them, and I suspect the real secret may be in using canned tomatoes (baby jesus forgive me), but it’s getting much closer. Also: the liquid fill line in your food processor is there for a reason.
Restaurant Salsa, Almost Perfect
3 medium sized tomatoes (or plain canned tomatoes if you’re feeling nutty)
2 red bell peppers
1 hot pepper of choice – I use something super mild like a poblano, pasilla or Anaheim
1 whole yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
1 – 2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
juice from 1/2 a lime
large bunch of cilantro, stems and all
- Line a cookie sheet with foil and broil the shit outta those vegetables, everything but the cilantro. Because my broiler has hotstpots, I have to monitor the sheet and pull out items as they start to blacken and rearrange the rest to keep them browning. So much depends on your own broiler, the distance from the broiler, the size of the vegetables, yadda yadda, that I can’t give you any kind of guidelines on how long this will take. You’ll have to just hover around the kitchen, use your nose to smell for when they start to blacken, and stop them before they actually char.
- Oh! And don’t peel them! Leave the char on! I fought this several times, insisting that they did not in fact leave all that burned skin on, and Mike insisted I was a fool. He was not wrong.
- Take note that both the onion and the tomato have a higher water content, and may not readily brown – this is okay, we’re just trying to un-raw them. When all the peppers are done browning, remove the tomatoes and onions and garlic as well, no matter what they look like.
- Throw everything into the food processor all together and pulse quickly until it is the texture you want. Also consider putting about half aside when it’s chopped rather large and then processing the rest until practially smooth , mixing the two parts together when you’re done – this will make a nice thick salsa, but with some large texture still in it.
- If you dawdle taking photos, the whole thing will puke liquid all over. Just so you know.
¹ Want to know why mashed potatoes from restaurants always taste so good? Butter. And cream. And salt. In levels that you would never knowingly put in your body. EVIL CACKLE!September 1st, 2010 | Crohn's disease, Make It So