People that have tried this recipe have said “Wow, I didn’t know this was supposed to be like salsa… It tastes like the ingredients in chili.” They’re right. And here’s why: This recipe is similar to mole recipes found in Mexico. It is made with dried chili pods that you can easily store in your freezer for an extended period of time. Chimayo chili peppers are widely used for cooking and can range from mild to very hot. They are dried and packaged whole, or ground into a powder and sold commercially as pure chili powder.
In towns scattered across New Mexico, you will find them drying on the terra cotta rooftops during harvest season. Many are made into chili ristras and hung as a decoration or food source. This colorful salsa is also traditionally served during the Christmas season and is very popular in the Southwest.
10 large, dried New Mexican Chimayo pepper pods, stems removed
1 tbs. mexican oregano
4 large garlic cloves—with husks
1 tsp. salt (to taste)
2 ripe garden tomatoes, fine chopped*
Heat a large, dry cast-iron skillet to medium and place the dried chimayos on one layer in the skillet. Heat the chilis lightly and turn a few times for about five minutes, being careful not to scorch them—or they will taste bitter. Remove from the skillet and place in a blender with hot water to cover them. Let stand for 20 minutes to rehydrate them.
Drain the chilis of water and reserve about a half cup water remaining in the blender.
Place the garlic cloves with husks in the skillet and roast on medium for about 7-10 minutes. When they slightly blacken and give off that wonderful aroma, remove and squeeze the clove out of the husk. They should come out freely after slicing the hard tip off of each clove. Add the garlic cloves to the blender.
Add the salt, and Mexican oregano.
Puree on high until smooth. Remove and add the tomatoes.* Stir well and serve immediately with good-quality corn chips. Now would be a nice time to serve the blue chips you’ve been saving for that special occasion.
Enjoy—this is as authentic as it gets.