The bonus room playoffs and Super Bowl hangouts are calling for chips and salsa and your fresh summertime Tennessee tomato Pico de Gallo is a distant memory. What now? Another generic bottle perched by the Doritos? You’re not honestly shelling out the dough for the Rick Bayless-endorsed brand. Our year-round, all-purpose salsa combines canned and fresh ingredients and after few seconds in a food processor, it’s ready to go.
Like most of our recipes, this salsa is just a start — you’ll invent all kinds of variations as you go. Say, swap the canned tomatoes for a can of drained tomatillos for a fabulous green salsa. And if you can’t stand cilantro, leave it out. Add a canned chipotle pepper for smoky flavor or soften any whole dried chile (a Pasilla or a New Mexico) in hot water for 20 minutes and add it to the food processor with the other ingredients.
This salsa is still a bit mild (to us) so we kick it up with a few more fresh Jalapenos. And Serranos will heat it up even more. You can’t tell about a fresh Jalapeño until you take a bite so each batch will be a little different from the start. Once the ingredients are blended just adjust your ingredients to make it hot, medium, or mild to suit.
Now that you’re a salsa maker, fry your own tortilla chips. Bagged chips are fine and there are plenty to choose from, but frying chips is easily worth the effort. Here’s how:
Cut a stack of fresh corn tortillas into quarters. Sit them on the counter for a little while to dry out if you can.
Fry the tortilla quarters in small batches (don’t crowd the pan) in a heavy pot of hot 365°F oil about 2 to 3 inches deep.
Turn the chips frequently and carefully until they begin to brown, about a couple of minutes. They will continue to darken once out of the oil so pull them out before they are well-browned. Carefully remove the chips with tongs or a big slotted spoon to a big bowl lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt while the chips are hot.
After the oil has cooled pour it back into the bottle (discard the settled bits of chips). Keep the oil in the fridge and reuse it for more chips, or other uses. Nothing wrong with it.
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes including the juice
- 1 can (7 ounces) sliced pickled jalapenos en escabeche including the juice*
- 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 medium handful fresh cilantro
- 1 small clove garlic
- 2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
- Salt, to taste
- Vinegar, fresh lemon juice, or lime juice, to taste
Combine all the ingredients except the salt and vinegar in a food processor. Process until nicely blended. Taste for salt and add a little vinegar if it needs more tang.
*Note: Use about ¾ cup of any brand of sliced jalapeno peppers. We like to use the canned pepper brine, but you can substitute 2 or 3 tablespoons of vinegar, lemon, or lime juice for the brine and you’ll probably need a bit more salt. Makes about 3 cups.