Are you ready for some salsa? It’s a salsa time of year, after all. Now is the time for all good tomatoes to come to the aid of the salsa. Salsasalsasalsasalsasalsasalsasalsasalsa!
Clapclap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clapclap. Clap. Clap. Clap*
*Ahem. That’s a salsa beat. Trust me.
It’s not that I get carried away over salsa in general, but I do over this particular salsa. Aside from fresh salsa (pico de gallo, or whathaveyou) this is what every single little salsa wants to be when it grows up. It’s smoky, thick, brick-red, and vibrant with guajillo and chipotle chiles, roasted tomatoes and tomatillos, and garlic that you forget you’re eating a jarred salsa. This is the salsa that makes people stop and say, “WOW!” and “Where’d you get this?” That, my friends, is no time for humility. Show them the rows of this on your shelves and puff your chest out a bit and say, “I made it.” I’d advise you fix a dollar amount in your head before serving to company, though, because you will inevitably be asked by reasonable people how much you would charge for a jar*.
*Unreasonable people, or younger siblings, however, will ask, beg and plead for you to give them a jar for free and remind you of the fact that they never told mom that you made them wear your fluffy pink nightgown in exchange for playing Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars with them even though they still don’t know you would’ve played it anyway because you liked them better than Barbies anyway.
It is best to be prepared is my point.
Back to the salsa. There are a few key points that differentiate this salsa from your average chunky jarred stuff.
- It uses dried, reconstituted chiles instead of fresh ones. For some reason this just feels so much easier. Am I crazy? Maybe. But this is what my brain says and I’m listening.
- It is made from roasted tomatoes rather than blanched, peeled, seeded, chopped tomatoes. (Read: two-step tomatoes rather than four-step tomatoes.) This makes peeling easier because you roast the tomatoes, put them in a paper bag, crimp the top and wait a few minutes, then the skin just sloughs right off. I’m sorry about using slough while talking about food. I know it’s not appetizing, but I couldn’t think of another word that fit just right.
- It is a “ground” salsa. Instead of uniformly (and angrily, depending on how much salsa you’re making and how many times you’re interrupted by the people who will eventually eat this salsa) hand chopping all the prepared ingredients, you toss them into the food processor and pulse until all the contents have been chopped to the point where they’re pretty derned little. Almost (but not quite) smooth. Why? Well, because I can. And because it tastes great. And because my kids like it better that way. And because it makes this end product more versatile. You can dump a jar on a pork or beef roast or a whole chicken, marinate it overnight, then drop it in the crockpot the next day on low. After several hours, shred everything together for the ultimate in simple main dishes. Eat the meat on sandwiches, on barbecue pizzas, in quesadillas, in this glorious dish, or on tacos. I guarantee you’ll come up with many more ways to use meat cooked in this salsa.
- It just plain tastes better. I realize that’s not scientific or terribly persuasive, but there you have it. This is the best salsa in the world.
I have one final piece of advice about this salsa. Double the recipe. You really should just trust me on this or one of two things will happen to you. You will find yourself crying over your last jar of salsa between bites ~OR~ you will be reduced to guarding your stash jealously, suspiciously staring down anyone walking past your pantry or basement stairs and menacingly slapping a wooden spoon against your palm to show them you mean business. It will be easier on your mind in the long run if you just go ahead and double it. You’ve been warned.