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      RECIPE TITLE "Roasted Jalapeno Tomato Salsa with fresh cilantro" from Salsas That Cook : Using Classic Salsas To Enliven Our Favorite Dishes by Rick Bayless

    ... more great recipes by Rick Bayless on our GREAT CHEFS page!

    yieldsfor 2 1/2 CUPS difficultyeasy

    This is our salsa closest to the classic home-style Mexican salsa de molcajete that's made from roasted garlic and chiles pounded in a lava-rock mortar (molcajete) with roasted tomatoes. Even though we've updated the equipment for the modern American kitchen, that perfect blend of sweetness (roasted garlic and tomatoes) and raciness (roasted jalapenos) is what you'll spoon out. The final addition of fresh cilantro and a drizzle of vinegar focuses the whole experience: This is just what most Americans wish they were getting when they open a jar with that ubiquitous "salsa" label. Made with plum tomatoes, your salsa will have a more homogeneous texture — just right for using the salsa as an ingredient in other dishes. Because round tomatoes give a looser texture, choose them when you want a condiment to set on the table.

      RECIPE INGREDIENTS
    Ripe tomatoes, 1 1/2 pounds
    preferably plum (about 10 medium plum)
    Fresh jalapeno 2 to 3 chiles, stemmed (1 to 1 1/2 ounces)
    White onion, sliced 1/2 small 1/4 inch thick (2 ounces)
    Garlic cloves, peeled 4
    Water about 1/4 cup
    Chopped fresh cilantro, 1/3 cup loosely packed
    Salt 1 generous teaspoon
    Cider vinegar 1 1/2 teaspoons

    OTHER FRESH CHILE POSSIBILITIES:

    Habanero (orange or green), serrano, Santa Fe, Fresno, fresh pequin, Hungarian wax, fresh arbol, cayenne, Tabasco, as well as most small hot fresh chiles.

      RECIPE METHOD

    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 cool.

    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


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