Thursday, August 13, 2015

West Texas roasted salsa

West Texas roasted salsa with green chiles and tomatoes

This summer has gone by fast and I’m still a little surprised that it’s August and people are returning to school. I’ve spent my summer working, which is not a complaint because I love what I do. But it I am disappointed that I haven’t had the time to make a trip to West Texas, which is one of my favorite places to unwind.

While I cherish the rugged vistas and laid-back people you find in West Texas, one of my favorite things about this region is the food, as it varies from the rest of the state. For instance, you’ll find dishes such as stacked enchiladas and red chile-based stews that aren’t typical to other parts of Texas.

But one of the main things I love about West Texan cuisine is the assertive presence of long, green chiles. These chiles, which are locally grown near El Paso in both Texas and New Mexico, are generously added to their salsas, stews, and enchiladas, among many other things. And while August is a time when many celebrate these chiles, in West Texas, green chiles are cherished throughout the year.

West Texas roasted salsa with green chiles and tomatoes

To eat long, green chiles—whether it’s a Hatch, a green chile that has been cultivated and grown in Hatch, New Mexico; an Anaheim, to which the Hatch is related; or a poblano chile, a darker, wider chile than the others—you first need to roast them in order to remove the tough skin. Because this is done, the chiles not only contain their bright, earthy flavor but also carry a hint of smoke from the roasting, which makes them all the more robust and appealing.

Late summer is prime salsa season for me, and while most of the year I make it with canned tomatoes, in the summer when tomatoes are ripe and delicious, I use fresh. One of my favorite summertime salsas is quite simple. I broil tomatoes, jalapeños, and garlic until they’ve charred, then I whir them in the blender (or smash in a molcajete) until it all comes together. It’s easy and good.

While a tomato-based table salsa is prevalent throughout most of Texas, in the western part of the state you’ll often find green chile-based salsas, too. Since green chiles are in season, I decided to make my usual summer salsa but with a more assertive green-chile presence instead. I wanted a West Texas roasted salsa.

West Texas roasted salsa with green chiles and tomatoes

First I broiled some green chiles (I used hot Anaheim chiles, as Hatch chiles haven’t arrived in New York yet, but if I were in Texas I’d definitely go with Hatch), jalapeños, and garlic. While I wanted the chiles to take center stage, I did add a couple of ripe tomatoes to round out the salsa with some sweetness and acidity. After everything was sufficiently roasted and peeled, I threw it all into the blender with a bit of salt and blended until smooth.

I grabbed a handful of tortilla chips and began to taste. One bite led to another and while I’d made almost a pint, I realized that I should have made at least a quart as this salsa was addictive. My West Texas roasted salsa had heat without being incendiary, and while the main thrust was the earthy, roasted green chiles, the garlic and the tomatoes added an aromatic beat that gave the salsa depth.

This salsa stands firm on its own, but if you wanted to make it livelier you could throw in some fresh cilantro and lime juice, as well. It’s super versatile, and not only is it terrific as a dipping sauce for chips, but it’s also excellent on tacos, eggs, and as a topper for most meats, vegetables, and fish. I haven’t made queso or enchiladas with it yet, but that’s next on my list as I know it would work well with those, too.

West Texas roasted salsa with green chiles and tomatoes

Hopefully I’ll be able to visit West Texas soon. In the meantime, however, this West Texas roasted salsa takes me back to that vast and beautiful place, where the people are friendly, the views are beautiful, and the food is soulful and good.

West Texas roasted salsa


Ingredients:
3 Hatch or Anaheim chiles
2 jalapeños
2 plum tomatoes, cut in half, lengthwise
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (optional)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice (optional)

Instructions:
Turn on the broiler and place a rack 5 inches away from heating element. Line a cast-iron skillet or baking sheet with foil and place the Hatch chiles, jalapeños, tomatoes (seed side up), and garlic on the skillet. Cook under the broiler for 7 minutes, and then remove the skillet from the oven. The garlic should have light brown spots on it. Remove it from the skillet and place in a blender. Turn over the Hatch chiles and jalapeños (leaving the tomatoes as they are), and return the skillet to the oven.

Continue to broil the chiles and tomatoes for 7 to 8 more minutes or until nicely charred. After this time, remove the skillet from the oven. Place the tomatoes in the blender, and put the Hatch chiles and jalapeños in a paper sack or plastic food-storage bag, close it tight and let the chiles steam for 20 minutes.

To capture any juices and other flavorful bits, add 1 cup of water into the foil-lined skillet, swirl it around, and then pour it into a glass measuring cup. The water should be a light brown color much like the color of weak tea.

After the chiles have steamed, remove from the bag and rub off the skin. Remove the stems and seeds from the chiles and add them to the blender. Add 1/4 cup of the skillet water to the blender and then pulse on low until everything comes together. Depending on how thick you want it, add more skillet water until it’s your desired thickness. Stir in the salt, taste, and make any adjustments.

This is a terrific salsa as is, but you can give it a brighter flavor by adding cilantro and lime juice, if you like. And you can serve it warm or let it cool, it’s good either way. Store it in the refrigerator, and it should keep for about a week.


Yield:
about 2 cups

Author:


HOMESICKTEXAN.COM

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29 comments:

Madeline Hall said...

This looks delicious! I love trying new salsas, so this looks like a good one to make for sure! ; )

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Madeline--Enjoy!

Steve Snell said...

The Hatch chiles arrived in Lubbock last weekend and the roasting has begun in front of the grocery stores and on some street corners. The aroma fills the air and intoxicates the senses. So many chiles...so little time.

David Watkins said...

Finding your blog after moving from El Paso to Maine made me aware of how much I'd taken for granted having some of the best food in the world. With your help, I was able to recreate and share those flavors with my Yankee neighbors.
I've since moved to Tennessee and I'm getting closer to the real UT.
My question is about home canning this wonderful salsa. Can you, and how would you do that? I have canned jalapeños and jellies before, but I'm not quite sure how to do this without having the salsa turn to mush.
Please enlighten me if you can.

Unknown said...

I would love to read about your ideal West Texas vacation. We usually end up on the coast but I would enjoy exploring that region sometime. Also it's great you posted this recipe because the roasting is important in many dishes, and something I need to try more often.

TexasDeb said...

Texas misses you too, but at the moment we are having a bit of a statewide hot flash so perhaps the salsa roasting is best done where you are. I'll be printing this out and saving it to use in September after our current bout of triple digit days is spent, thank you!

Lynda said...

Does your homemade salsa ever gel after it's been in the fridge? I notice whenever I attempt to make my own salsa at home this happens and wondered if there is any way to avoid it (or if this was only happening to me).

mzzbev said...

I really need to get your cookbook since I was raised in El Paso but now live in UP Michigan

TX2GA said...

Takes me back to my 3 year stint in El Paso in a previous life. Almost every grocery store had a chili roaster outside and sold Hatch chilis by the bushel. Love the salsa, green chili enchiladas and green chili stew. Now I'm a Texpat in ATL so I have to get my fix at Chuy's & Pappasito's. Yum!

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Steve--The aroma of roasting Hatch chiles is indeed intoxicating! I love it so much.

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

David--There's no added acid in this recipe, which means you'd probably need a pressure cooker to can it safely. I'd probably freeze it instead.

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Unknown--Here are some of my travel posts, which have some West Texas stories and ideas in them.

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Lynda--This salsa doesn't gel in the refrigerator.

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

TexasDeb--Stay cool and enjoy the salsa in September!

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Mzzzbev--Yes you do! There are a couple of recipes from El Paso in my first book--El Paso-style queso and salpicon.

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

TX2GA--While you're still far from home, it's great that Atlanta now has Chuy's and Pappasito's. Have you been to Superica yet? The chef-owner, Ford Fry, is from Houston.

Unknown said...

and folks, this gal makes fabulous Tortillas.. i followed her for a long time in the past. the homemade Tortillas are so good.. E.Huffman

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

E. Huffman--Thank you! I love dipping a warm tortilla into fresh salsa.

Margaret Smith said...

With a pressure canner do you think this would can safely?

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Margaret--Unfortunately, I've never canned with a pressure canner so I can't answer that question for you. If you look up the web site for National Center for Home Preservation, it might be able to help you with this. I'd probably just freeze it to preserve it!

Cindi O said...

No Hatch chiles yet at HEB, but I'm expecting them any day now. This is the first thing I'm going to make with them. Thanks! I love a good salsa. I'm stocking up my freezer with peppers this year so I can make this all year long.

Christina Soong said...

Texan cuisine seems like such a cool blend of traditional American food and a Mexican twist!

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Christina--Yep! Because Texas was once part of Mexico and we're still neighbors, it has a huge influence on Texan cuisine.

Jim said...

The salsa's more like it (Hatch season) and the links to past recipes were good. I’m sure the corn soup is, too, I was just hoping for something like “ultimate roasted relleno w/ verde carne sauce.” :)

anotherfoodieblogger said...

Amazingly, Hatch chiles showed up for the first time that I can ever remember seeing them here in Oregon two weeks ago! I bought me two bagfuls, made a pint of salsa almost just like yours, and roasted and froze the rest. ~ Kathryn

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for this. Hatch chiles made it to California recently... Delicious.

Mary Scott said...

I found hatch chilis at our local Sprouts and about flipped out! I made this poblano and while great I can't wait to make it with the Hatch!!

Kathy M said...

Made this today with Anaheims, tomatoes and jalapeños from my garden and it tasted great!

janna said...

I was thrilled to see Hatch chilis in my local (Iowa City) grocery store, but didn't buy any because I don't know what to do with them if they aren't roasted for me. I hope they still have them in stock when I get there tomorrow!

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