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      RECIPE TITLE "Mellow Red Chile Salsa with sweet garlic and roasted tomatoes" 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

    As you progress from fresh chiles to dried ones, the flavors deepen and concentrate; they become more robust and complex. These flavors are the genius of the Mexican kitchen.

    Dried New Mexico chiles, whether mild or hot, offer the lightest, easiest of the dried chile flavors. So start with this salsa if you're new to this genre. The dried-chile earthiness of the New Mexicos — dressed up with a good portion of sweet roasted tomatoes and garlic, perfumed with a little Mexican oregano, jazzed up with a dash of vinegar — is offered here at its most perfectly mellow best.


      RECIPE INGREDIENTS

    Dried New Mexico 4 chiles (1 1/3 ounces)
    Ripe tomatoes, 1/2 pound
    White onion, sliced 1/2 small 1/4 inch thick (2 ounces)
    Garlic cloves, peeled 1/2 head
    Dried oregano, 1/4 teaspoon preferably Mexican
    Cider vinegar 1 1/2 tablespoons
    Water about 1/2 cup
    Salt 1 1/2 teaspoons
    Sugar (optional) 1/4 teaspoon

      RECIPE METHOD

    1. Heat the broiler. Pull the stems off the dried chiles, tear them open and shake out the seeds (if you prefer a salsa with a more refined texture, be sure to remove all the seeds). Place in a bowl, cover with hot tap water and lay a plate on top to keep them submerged.

    2. Lay the whole tomatoes on a broiler pan or baking sheet. Set as close to the broiler as your oven allows and broil for about 6 minutes, until darkly roasted and blackened in spots — the tomato skins will split and curl. With a pair of tongs, flip over the tomatoes and roast them for another 6 minutes or so, until they are soft and splotched with dark spots. Set aside to cool.

    3. Turn the oven down to 425 degrees. Separate the onion into rings and, on a pan or baking sheet, combine it with the garlic. Set in the oven. Stir carefully every few minutes, until the onions are soft and beautifully roasted (don't worry if some of the edges char) and the garlic is soft and browned in spots, about 15 minutes total.

    4. If you're not inclined toward rustic textures in your salsa 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; catch the flavorful juices on the baking sheet as you work, so as not to waste any of them. By now the chiles should be soft (to catch them at the perfect stage of rehydration — before they've lost much flavor into the water — soak them no longer than 30 minutes); drain. In a blender or food processor, combine the drained chiles with the tomatoes and their juice. Process to a fairly smooth puree — chile skins are tough, so you want to make sure they are chopped up enough. Scrape two-thirds of the puree into a large bowl. Roughly chop the onion and garlic, then add them to the blender containing the rest of the chile-tomato mixture. Pulse repeatedly until all is moderately finely chopped. Scrape down the sides from time to time to keep everything moving evenly; if the mixture just won't move through the blades, add a little water to loosen it up. Scrape the puree into the bowl. Stir in the oregano and vinegar, then add enough water to give this salsa a light consistency.

    5. Taste and season generously with salt — this is a condiment, remember. Taste again and add a little sugar if you think it's necessary to balance any lingering bitterness in the chiles. 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 21.


    OTHER DRIED CHILE POSSIBILITIES:

    Guajillo, pulla.



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