When most people think about visiting a Mexican restaurant, one of the first things they think of is getting chips and salsa to munch on while they wait for their food to arrive. So many restaurants serve a watery, runny version of what we normally think of as salsa, and nobody really wants to eat that! The best kind of salsa for dipping is a hearty one that stays on your chip with no mess and no dripping.
Several months ago, my mom got hooked on a salsa from a local Mexican restaurant near her house. Having inherited her ability to pick apart recipes, but having a special knack with Mexican cuisine, I did my best to recreate her new favorite salsa. It only took me a few tries, but I figured out the recipe for the salsa she liked and improved upon it just a little.
This is a bit more of a sophisticated salsa than the typical dip for chips that you’ll see at most mainstream Mexican restaurants. The different chiles used lend a complexity of depth and flavor that you won’t get elsewhere with a typical restaurant salsa. And the great thing about it is that you can use it as more than just a dipping salsa; you can put it on just about anything you like. One of my favorite things to do with it is garnish taquitos de pollo, also known as flautas. You can kick up the level of heat of the salsa just by leaving the seeds in but you’ll still get all the flavor of the chile without the spicy factor if you take them out.
- 3 large Roma tomatoes
- 2 thick slices of onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 chile pasilla
- 1 chile guajillo
- 1 chile morita
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 a bunch of cilantro (more or less to taste)
Heat 1-1/2 cups of water to boiling in the microwave. Tear off the stems of the pasilla and guajillo chiles and shake the seeds out into a bowl to either save for later use or to discard (or, if you want the salsa to be hotter, leave the seeds in).
Place the chiles in the hot water and allow them to rehydrate for about 30 minutes. They don’t need to be fully submerged the whole time, but you can gently press them under the water with a spoon to make sure the entire chile gets wet.
While the chiles are soaking, line an oven-proof baking dish with aluminum foil (for easy cleanup later). Slice the very top off the tomatoes and cut them in half lengthwise. Place them flesh-side down in the baking dish so the skins are facing up. Add the two slices of onion and peeled garlic cloves and roast under the broiler for about 15 minutes or until the tomato skins have black spots from roasting. I like mine to be well-roasted, so I usually leave them in for about 17-18 minutes.
When they’re done roasting, allow them to sit for about 5 minutes to cool slightly. While you wait, assemble your Kenmore Elite food processor with the multipurpose/chopping blade.
Add the roasted tomatoes, garlic, onion, salt and the rehydrated chiles through the food chute. Run the food processor for about 10 seconds to roughly chop all the ingredients. Add the cilantro through the food chute and pulse for an additional 5-10 seconds to chop it well but not so long that you completely puree the salsa.
Unplug the food processor and use a spatula to push down any salsa that is stuck to the wall of the bowl. Remove the food chute and bowl cover to open the bowl and then carefully remove the blade. Rinse the blade and set aside. Pour the salsa into a serving dish (or an airtight container if you don’t plan to serve it right away).
Yields two cups of salsa. Serve with hearty corn tortilla chips.