When we think of salsa, we often think of chips and dip. In Mexico salsa is used as a condiment: they put it on everything. They spoon salsa on tacos. They spoon salsa on enchiladas. They spoon salsa into burritos. They even spoon salsa on top of other salsas!...ok maybe not, but salsa is common in Mexican cooking as peanut butter is to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. There's definitely some fun making your own salsa instead of going to the store and buying a bottle of Pace Picante sauce or Tostitos salsa.
I found a carnitas recipe from America's Test Kitchen, and I wanted to make homemade salsa that would complement it in a taco, enchilada, or burrito. I found several good recipes from Rick Bayless' Authentic Mexican cookbook. Rick Bayless is a world renowned chef known for cooking Mexican cuisine (and also the host of the cooking show Mexico One Plate at a Time on PBS) and his book has a lot of good recipes for traditional Mexican dishes - it even has a chapter dedicated just for salsas! There were 2 salsas I found in the book: Chipotle Chili Salsa and Quick-cooked Tomato-Chile Salsa. I made both salsas on two separate occasions making carnitas. These salsas are great anytime you're hosting some sort of gathering, party, or fiesta (particularly a Cinco de Mayo party).
Both recipes and comments are below and the video (coming soon) above shows Rick Bayless demonstrating how to make a salsa similar to the Chipotle Chili Salsa because he can show you better than I can explain. One thing he does is
Chipotle Chili Salsa RecipeAuthentic Mexican by Rick Bayless
YIELD: about ¾ cup
Ingredients3 medium (about 4½ ounces total) fresh tomatillos, husked and washed
2 large cloves garlic, unpeeled
3 canned chiles chipotles, seeded
Salt, about ¼ teaspoon
Instructions1. Roasting the tomatillos and garlic. Lay a square of aluminum foil on a griddle or skillet set over medium heat; set the tomatillos on top and turn regularly until soft and blackened in spots, about 10 minutes. While the tomatillos are roasting, toast the garlic on an uncovered spot on the griddle or skillet, turning frequently until soft, about 15 minutes; cool, slip off the skin and chop.
2. Finishing the sauce. Place the tomatillos, garlic, chipotles and 2 tablespoons water in a blender jar or food processor and puree. Scrape into a sauce dish, season with salt and stir in a little more water to give it a light, saucy consistency. If a smokier flavor is desired, stir in a teaspoon or two of the sauce from the canned chiles chipotles.
FlavorFool's Notes (for Quick-cooked Tomato-Chile Salsa)
|Carnitas Taco with Homemade Salsa (underneath the cheese)|
Quick-cooked Tomato-Chile Salsa RecipeAuthentic Mexican by Rick Bayless
YIELD: about 2 cups
Ingredients1½ pounds (3 medium-large round, 9 to 10 pear-shaped) ripe tomatoes, boiled or roasted, peeled and cored OR one 28-ounce can good-quality tomatoes, drained
Fresh hot green chiles to taste (roughly 3 to 5 chiles serranos or 2 to 3 chiles jalapeños), stemmed
½ small onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon lard or vegetable oil
Salt, about ½ teaspoon
Instruction1. The tomatoes. For a more refined sauce, seed the tomatoes: Cut them in half across the middle and squeeze out the seeds and liquid. Roughly chop the tomatoes and place in a blender or food processor.
2. The puree. If you want a milder sauce, first seed the chiles. Then chop them into small bits and add to the blender or processor, along with the onion and garlic. If using a blender, stir to distribute the ingredients evenly, then process the mixture until pureed (but still retaining a little texture).
3. Frying the sauce. Heat the lard or oil in a medium-large skillet over medium-high. When it is hot enough to make a drop of the puree really sizzle, add it all at once and stir constantly for about 5 minutes, as the puree sears and cooks into a thicker, more orangecolored sauce. Season with salt and remove from the fire.