Here’s a Southwest salsa recipe with a unique twist – the tomatoes, peppers, garlic and onion are smoked over wood chips for two hours. The result adds an entirely new dimension to a traditional red salsa. If you have access to an electric smoker, you’ll have better results with more control, due to the built-in thermostat — but using a traditional covered grill with offset heat is just fine.
The final product will be reduced by about half, due to the water content rendering out during the smoking process. Roma tomatoes are preferred because they have, on average, the lowest percentage of water. The garlic and onion will mellow to a wonderful, earthy flavor. You can use any hard or fruit wood – I’ve found that hickory or applewood works best. If using mesquite, use reservation as it can quickly turn bitter. Enjoy!
3 tbs. XV olive oil
8-10 large Roma tomatoes – cored and halved
2 large garden Hot Hungarian wax peppers – trimmed, seeded and cut in 2″ chunks
2-4 mature red garden jalapeño peppers – trimmed and halved, with seeds and membrane left intact
1-2 small garden habañero peppers – trimmed (optional)
1/2 red onion – cut in four pieces with the layers separated
4 large cloves garlic (peeled)
1 cup washed cilantro leaves
Juice from 1/8 lemon wedge (optional)
1-2 tsp. salt, to taste
Carefully wash the tomatoes and peppers and prepare with a sharp knife. Add to a large mixing bowl with the onion and garlic. Add the olive oil and toss lightly to coat.
Prepare an outdoor electric smoker by preheating it to 275-degrees F. Place the water pan in the bottom, but leave it empty. You can line it with foil for easy cleanup. Seal the door. When preheated, place the mixed tomatoes, peppers, onion and garlic in a perforated grill pan directly on a center rack above the water pan. Seal the door and add one cup of wood chips to the chip loader. Smoke for two hours, replenishing the chip loader ONCE after 45 minutes. Do not over smoke.
When finished, turn off the unit and remove the contents from the perforated grill pan and place in a food processor. You’ll need to work in batches. Pulse until the desired consistency is achieved. Add the cilantro and pulse again. Transfer to serving bowl and salt to your preference. Add the lemon juice. Mix well, let stand for 20 minutes and serve with blue corn tortilla chips.
Makes about 2.5 cups
Preparation time: 1/2 hour
Smoke time: 2 hours
Rest time: 20 minutes
Cerveza time: Whenever the hell you feel like it