Salsa de Chili de Arbol

Staying with the Spanish/Mexican theme, I made a wonderful, albeit, very spicy salsa last night. Sorry, no step by step pics this time.

I have had this many times at taco stands and in Mexico, but never tried to make it myself, and it is really quite something. Be warned it is hot, but it is a fast hit of heat and then it fades. The smoky, nutty flavor is worth every tear.

Ingredients

30 Chili de Arbol, with hard stems cut off
2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
3-4 Roma Tomatoes, cut into quarters
4 cloves of Garlic
½ cup Water
2 -3 tsp Salt

 
Begin, but sautéing the chilies in the oil until they take on a nice golden color. Do not let them burn, or you will need to start over. Usually it takes about 5- 10 minutes on medium heat while stirring frequently.
 
When they are done, turn them over into a food processor or blender, and then add the tomatoes, salt and the whole garlic to the pan and sauté for a few minutes. Then add the water and continue sautéing until the tomatoes are cooked and some of the cooking liquid has evaporated.
 
Then turn into the blender and blend aggressively until smooth and serve warm or cool down in the refrigerator. I find this salsa is best when served at a slightly cool or room temperature. It is perfect with tortilla chips or on tacos on any roasted meat, especially chicken.

Salsa Roja- Mexican Roasted Salsa

Based upon the fact that the entire batch was eaten in one evening, I would say this is a thumbs up. There are so many types of salsa, but I find this one particularly good, because the ingredients are roasted prior to combining.

In many traditional Mexican recipes, the ingredients are roasted in a pan or fried in oil. I wanted to make it easier to prepare and a bit less fat and oil, so I did it this way and I was very happy with the results.

I really do think this is easier to make with a food processor, but if you want to be traditional, you can use a mortar and pestle, or as they are called in Mexico, molcajete.

The key to making this special is the roasting, so before you begin, preheat your oven to 375F or 190C. Then prepare all of your vegetables as described below.

Ingredients

8 Roma Tomatoes, sliced in half
1 Large Onion, peeled and cut into 4 quarters.
2-3 Jalapeno or 1-2 Serrano Chilies if you want it hotter
6 cloves of Garlic, peeled

Lie them all on a non stick baking sheet, skin side down for the tomatoes and drizzle with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil. Put into the oven and bake for 25-35 minutes. You want the ingredients to have a nice brown color along the edges, but not burnt. Then remove from oven and let them cool on the baking sheet.




Prepare the following:

1 bunch of fresh Cilantro, leaves and stems, about 2 cups unchopped, or 1 cup chopped.
Juice of two Limes, you may add more to taste.
2 tsp Sea Salt, you may need to add more, but start with the 2 tsp and see how you get on.

Take all of your roasted ingredients and the juices and oil from the baking sheet and put into the food processor and pulse until they are finely chopped, then add in the rest of your fresh ingredients and continue to blend until smooth. This is not a chunky salsa, but rather a smooth paste. 



Put into the refrigerator and cool for at least one hour, but two hours is better. Serve with tortilla chips and/or use as a condiment on eggs or as a dip for crudites. The uses are endless and it will keep easily in your fridge for at least a week.

Cider Pot Roast

As it is 104F here in Pasadena today, it might seem odd that I am posting a recipe for Pot Roast, but I just found this recipe again, so wanted to share it. I think this is good any time of the year.
What could be more simple and comforting than pot roast?  I put this on early in the day and allow it cook all day long. This is key to getting a pot roast that just falls apart when you look at it. I find my slow cooker is ideal for this recipe.

The cider vinegar and apples create a sweet and sour flavor that is a perfect balance. It is very similar to a German sauerbraten. Serve it as a one-pot meal, or add rice, bread or noodles to feed more.
Ingredients

4 lb Beef Roast, a sirloin or chuck roast is perfect.
3 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 large Onion, sliced thinly
1 large Granny Smith Apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 lb baby Carrots
1 cup chopped Celery
1 Bay Leaf
½ cup Cider Vinegar
1-2 Tbsp Light Brown Sugar
1 can Tomato Paste
1 bottle of Dark Beer, such as Spaten or Guinness
1 Tbsp Sea Salt
Freshly ground Black Pepper
10 small whole baby Potatoes, or cut in half if they are medium size
 Preheat a large sauté pan or a deep cast iron casserole and then add the oil. Salt and pepper the meat on all sides. Once the pan is hot, sear the roast thoroughly on all sides, about 2 -3 minutes per side.
Add the roast to the slow cooker crock or to a heavy pot (a Le Creuset would be a fine choice). In the same sauté pan, quickly sweat the onion and apple, and then pour over the roast. Add the celery, carrots and potatoes to the slow cooker.
In same pan again, pour in the beer and deglaze the pan and reduce by half. Now add the tomato paste and the final ingredients (cider vinegar, bay leaf, sugar, remaining salt and more black pepper) to the pan and then pour over the roast.
If using a slow cooker, it will take approx. 4- 5 hours on high setting or 6-8 on low heat.
When finished, remove meat, slice and serve in a deep dish with vegetables and sauce over the meat.

Chili Pepper Experiment – Amazing!

One of my favorite things about the summer is being able to grow my own organic veg. This year I decided to try an experiment and I wanted to share my results. Maybe I am the only person that didn’t know this, but either way, I think it’s very interesting. What do they say, “small minds amuse easily”?

 
I chose to grow jalapeño chili peppers this year amongst other vegetables, however, I wanted to see if the chilies would change if they were left on the bush longer. I have always preferred red chili peppers, as I found them more robust in flavor, but in the past, I thought they were a different variety, and this is why they were red rather than green. Guess what, this is not the case.
 
Here is a photographic study of my chilies as they changed from green to a wonderful red. As you can see, early on they are a lovely green and the flavor while already quite spicy and flavorful, is still a bit bitter and tart.
 
 
Now, they are in a transitional stage, which is really amazing, because they have taken on an almost chocolate color. The flavor is not substantially different from the green, but it is changing and becoming less bitter.
 
 
And finally, the peppers have fully ripened to their wonderful red color and what a difference in taste. They are still quite hot, but they are also sweet and the flavor is more complex. It\’s not just a blast of heat, but rather a more rounded overall flavor.
 
 
This is a perfect picture to see how they develop in all stages at the same time. In the past I just picked them early on, when they were green, so I never saw this transition.
 
 
After doing a bit more research, I have found that this same ripening cycle is true with many other chilies, such as Thai Dragon chilies and Red Bullet chilies, so lesson learned. 
 
If all of this talk of chilies has left you wanted something spicy, I have many wonderful dishes in the archives to cure your craving. Enjoy!