1. Heat the broiler. Lay the whole tomatoes and jalapenos out
on a broiler pan or baking sheet. Set the pan 4 inches below the
broiler and broil for about 6 minutes, until darkly roasted
even blackened in spots on one side (the tomato skins will
split and curl in places). With a pair of tongs, flip over the tomatoes
and chiles and roast the other side for another 6 minutes or so.
The goal is not simply to char the tomatoes and chiles but to cook
them through while developing nice roasty flavors. Set aside to
2. Turn the oven down to 425 degrees. Separate the onions into
rings. On a similar pan or baking sheet, combine the onion and garlic.
Roast in the oven, stirring carefully every couple of minutes, until
the onions are beautifully browned and wilted (even have a touch
of char on some of the edges) and the garlic is soft and browned
in spots, about 15 minutes total. Cool to room temperature.
3. For a little less rustic texture or if you're canning the salsa,
pull off the peels from the cooled tomatoes and cut out the "cores"
where the stems were attached, working over your baking sheet so
as not to waste any juices. In a food processor, pulse the jalapenos
(no need to peel or seed them) with the onion and garlic until moderately
finely chopped, scraping everything down with a spatula as needed
to keep it all moving around. Scoop into a big bowl. Without washing
the processor, coarsely puree the tomatoes with all the juice
that has accumulated around them and add them to the bowl.
Stir in enough water to give the salsa an easily spoonable consistency.
Stir in the cilantro.
4. Taste and season with salt and vinegar, remembering that this
condiment should be a little feisty in its seasoning. If you're
planning to use your salsa right away, simply pour it into a bowl
and it's ready, or refrigerate it covered and use within 5 days.
If you're canning or freezing the salsa, please see page 2i.
VARIATION: ROASTED HABANERO-TOMATO SALSA:
To make this very spicy, distinctively flavored salsa, replace
the jalapenos with 2/4/6 stemmed habanero chiles (here I prefer
the fruitier flavor of the orange habaneros to the less ripe
even grassy flavor of the greens).
Copyright © 1998 by Richard Lane Bayless