Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fiery Roasted Salsa

In an effort to use up some of the tomatoes we harvested I canned up a batch of salsa this weekend. I combined two recipes to come up with this and doubled the batch. (If you are new to canning please stick to a tested recipe, especially if you are using low acid foods as proper acidity is critical to the safety of your final product if you are using a water bath canner.) I made sure I used plenty of vinegar to ensure adequate acidity but be warned, this is not a by-the-book tested recipe. If you want to make this but are uncomfortable with canning, or just don't want to, you can definitely freeze this, in which case you would also have more room to play with ingredients since acidity is not so much an issue with freezing.

I used peppers in three different ways and roasted the veggies to add depth of flavor. I like this kind of salsa on the smoother side, so I pulsed almost all the veggies in the blender. As a bonus this means I just left the peel of the tomatoes on, saving me a step and keeping the extra roasted flavor in. I did this whole thing on the grill to avoid heating up the house and to enjoy the lovely day. You can also use your oven's broiler, you just may have to split the veggies into a couple batches.

Unless you are the type to eat habaneros straight this salsa will knock you on your butt. I'm thinking it will be yummy mixed into some sour cream to help cool the fire.

Start you boiling water canner to heat. I heat my clean canning jars along with the water so they are hot when I'm ready to go. You'll also need a stock pot that holds at least six quarts. For more in-depth canning instructions go here or check your local library for a variety of books.

Roasted Salsa
Makes 8 pint jars or 16 half pint jars.

Slice 7 lbs of tomatoes along their equator (this makes seeding them much easier). Seed them and set aside. If you are using a meatier tomato like an Amish Paste reduce the amount to 6 lbs. The recipes I was basing this on instructed you to roast the tomatoes and then peel, seed and dice. However, seeding and dicing tomatoes that are roasted is rather difficult since they get really soft. Seeding before hand is much easier and you don't have to wait for them to cool.

Toast up 24 dried peppers about 30 seconds on each side then transfer to a glass or metal bowl, cover with 2 cups hot water, weigh down with a bowl or plate and set aside to soak. I used 12 guajillo peppers, 6 chipotles (dried, not canned), 3 Californias, and 3 chili negros. You can safely substitute an equal amount of different dried chilis, or reduce the number, but don't add more if you are canning the salsa.

Everything that I grilled: 2 heads garlic broken into cloves (in aluminium tray), 4 small onions, peeled of loose skin, 4 jalapenos, 4 poblanos, and the tomatoes. I put the tomatoes cut side down for just about 30 seconds to get a touch of color then flipped them skin side down to finish roasting. You want them to develop plenty of charred color and flavor but pull them off before they turn completely to mush. Turn the peppers and onions occasionally, until blackened pretty well on all sides. Give the garlic a toss/shake a couple times; I let them go until I was done with the rest of the veggies. When you pull off the chilis transfer them to a paper bag, roll down the top to seal and set aside. Transfer the tomatoes to a bowl as they will give off a lot of liquid that you want to keep.

Stem your dried chilis and transfer them and their soaking liquid to a blender or food processor. Pulse until you achieve a rough paste. Transfer to stockpot. For all the veggies I ran through the blender I was going a for smooth, but not completely pureed consistency.

Skin the onions and garlic and transfer to the blender. You'll want to keep a small bowl of water handy to rinse your fingers while you are peeling the garlic as it is very sticky and you'll need to rinse your fingers a couple times during peeling.

A shot of the onions and garlic. You can see that the onions get a bit translucent on the grill, but they don't get mushy. The garlic however get nice and soft. I used a bit of the tomato juices to help these along in the blender.

You can see that the tomatoes get very soft. Blend as with the other veggies and transfer to the stockpot. If you opt not to blend your veggies you will need to peel the tomatoes or the skins will create an unpleasant texture in the final product.

Your peppers will get very dark and partially collapse from roasting. Putting them in the paper bag uses their own heat to steam them and make them easier to peel.
(And didn't B take some lovely pictures? Thanks babe!)

Pepper skins are pretty tough so I did peel them. A word to the wise: wear gloves when handling all these peppers. I didn't (and I know better!) and I had a serious chemical burn on my hands that night since I also didn't wash off the capsicum oil quickly enough.

The blended roasted chilies on top of the tomatoes. Can you see the wolf?

A close up so you can see the texture.

I also used 2 fresh jalapenos and 1 fresh poblano pepper. These I seeded and chopped fine.

Mix together all you roasted and fresh veggies, 1 bunch stemmed and finely chopped cilantro, 2 teaspoons salt, and 2 cups white vinegar. (Yes 2 cups - it is essential to ensure adequate acidity for all these low-acid fruits and vegetables). I recommend sticking with plain (cheap!) white vinegar for this as the nuances of a more expensive vinegar will get lost in all these big flavors. Simmer over medium heat 15-20 minutes.

Fill hot jars with hot salsa to 1/2 inch of top. Wipe jar threads clean, top with a hot, previously simmered lid and ring screwed on finger tight. Place into water bath, bring to a boil, and process 20 minutes. Turn off heat, leave for 5 minutes then remove jars to a towel covered counter. Leave undisturbed for 24 hours. Check seal (when you press on the center of the lid it should not pop up and down), remove rings, wipe jars clean, and store in a cool, dark, dry area. It is recommended that home canned goods be consumed within a year for best flavor, however if they are correctly processed, properly sealed, and show no signs of spoilage they will technically last quite a lot longer.

I still have something like 20 pounds of tomatoes so if anyone has suggestions for what to do with them I'd love some ideas!


Hannah said...

I've actually never made my own salsa before, but you've inspired me to change that. This sounds so much better than that stuff you would find at the store!

Anonymous said...

Nice Post
Steven Spurrier

Anonymous said...

looks AWESOME! looks like you have enough to share... send me some... please......... :D

Heather said...

I made this today! Thanks for a great recipe. I enjoyed grilling the veggies and not heating up the kitchen for the entire day.

Lily said...

Heather - I'm so glad you liked it! I need to make a batch, thanks for the reminder :)