Smokin’ Chipotle Salsa


The area around Santa Fe has a magical aura to it. It is timeless and beautiful. If I had a chance to live there, I couldn’t think of a better salsa to serve up for party guests.

Ingredients:

3 fresh large red tomatoes (8-10 Romas)
1 small spanish onion – minced
2 jalapeño peppers
1 tsp. chipotle powder (see preparation method below)
2 large cloves fresh minced garlic (a clove is 1 section of the whole bulb)
2-3 tbs. minced fresh cilantro
juice of 1/8 cut lime
1/2 tbs. salt
2 drops Hickory liquid smoke

Preparation:

Roma or Beefmaster tomatoes are preferred.

Fine chop the tomatoes and place in bowl. A food processor is ideal if you use restraint and don’t puree them into oblivion. Add the fine chopped peppers and spices. Go easy on the salt and use the liquid smoke with caution as it can quickly overpower the dish. Taste often (this is a good thing), keeping in mind that the ingredients will blend together over time—so do not overcompensate. Generally, the mix will become hotter if left to stand a bit.

Stir ingredients well and let stand for 1/2 hour. If the water content of the tomatoes separates out in the bowl after a while, drain the salsa by placing it in a fine screen basket or colander and then place back into bowl. This is normal. The water content will vary with different types of tomatoes. Romas on average have the lowest water content ratio.

Salsa best if used within two days. If you must put it in the fridge after use, let it warm up to room temperature again before serving.

Enjoy-
—my original recipe

Chipotle Powder
Chipotles (smoked jalapeños over a pecan-wood fire) are sold either dried as whole pods, dried and ground, or canned. With the increasing popularity of chipotle as a cooking spice, retailers have raised prices dramatically over the past few years. One pound of dried and ground chipotle powder currently goes for about $16 street price! Helpful tip—save yourself the money and grind your own by purchasing smaller amounts. They can commonly be found in most mexican markets or specialty supermarkets.

Here’s how:
Purchase a small bag of whole chipotle pods at a mexican market. Each bag usually is pre-packaged with about 10 pods and weighs about 3.5 ounces. The cost is about $2.59.

Using a small electric coffee or spice grinder and a sharp butcher knife, cut the pods into small sections and remove the stems. Then throw them in the grinder and pulverize them into a fine powder. One bag of pods should make you enough chipotle powder for at least a year—unless you’re a chili head like I am. Store the powder in an airtight container. I wash and reuse my empty Chinese hot mustard jars as they are virtually the same size as most spice jars and have a really nice lid.

Chipotle powder also works great as a rub for marinades with chicken, steak or fish.

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