Monday, February 18, 2013

Guadalajaran Salsa en Molcajete

I know the Gringo in you is saying, "Hey that's made with some sort of a rock thingy!"  Yes it is, but think of it as a centuries old food processor.  
The big companies, in the good old US of A that make the national brands of salsa know as much about good salsa (and Mexican food in general) as a cow knows about dancing. Comparing bottled salsa with fresh homemade, is like comparing prime rib with those little canned cocktail sausages. This is because they keep it fresh with chemical preservatives, and the result is sort of a jalapeno-flavored tomato sauce. If the salsa had any subtle flavors to begin with, after being on the shelf a short while, they have vanished.
On the other hand, salsa in Mexico is a centuries-old culinary art form with a hundred (or more) different flavors and uses. As with any great cuisine, these sauces are the heart of the meal. Authentic Mexican salsa is sometimes very hot, but not always. Unlike their counterparts from the U.S., they are so much more than just a way to add heat. The flavors are complex and full-bodied, well-balanced, and, like a fine wine, they complement a meal rather than overpower it.
Making your own salsa, like Grandma’s apple pie, is a labor of love. You need to smell the chiles roasting and taste the spices as you go. Start out making my personal favorite, Guadalajaran Salsa en Molcajete, and you’ll never go back to the bottled stuff. And salsas aren’t just for chips and nachos. Take an ordinary grilled chicken and serve it with tangy, spicy Tomatillo Salsa Verde or Salsa de Pipián con Chile Güero, with its unexpected fiery flavor, and suddenly you’re serving a real Mexican treat. Add a few extras like Mexican rice, warm corn tortillas, and an ice-cold Mexican beer and you’ll have a full-blown fiesta on your hands.

Guadalajaran Salsa en Molcajete

You’ll find this distinctive salsa made tableside at fine restaurants in Guadalajara. A molcajete is a centuries-old kitchen tool, sort of the Aztec version of the mortar and pestle.

 3 pulla chiles
4 tomatillos
3 Roma tomatoes
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 white onion, finely chopped
1/3 bunch cilantro, chopped

Toast the chiles on a hot, dry comal for 2 or 3 minutes, turning often to avoid burning. Turn heat up. Remove the cores from the tomatillos and tomatoes and then char the outsides on the comal until dark brown or lightly blackened. Coarsely chop the tomatillos and tomatoes and set aside.
Place the salt and then the garlic in the bottom of the molcajete. Work into a paste. Add the chiles and break up into small pieces. Add the tomatillos and tomatoes, working into mixture. Now add the onion and cilantro but stir in, do not grind. Serve with tortilla chips.
Makes 2 cups

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