Homemade Salsa Recipe – Pioneer Woman Restaurant Salsa
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Note: This is a very large batch. Recommend using a 12-cup food processor, or you can process the ingredients in batches and then mix everything together in a large mixing bowl.
Okay. Here’s the situation:
I am completely high maintenance when it comes to salsa.
Now, I’m not talking about Pico de Gallo. I’m high maintenance there, too…but that’s not what I’m making today.
What I’m making today is salsa. The kind they serve in restaurants with chips. The kind they sell in jars. The kind you eat during a football game. The kind that’s replaced ketchup as the number one condiment in America.
As ubiquitous as it is, you’d think salsa would be a pretty straightforward thing. But it isn’t. It’s tricky. Crafty. Mischievous. There’s a lot of bad salsa out there, and I’m about an inch away from completely giving up on the stuff that’s sold in jars. When it comes to a good salsa, here’s my list of demands:
No big chunks, man! Big chunks are good when it comes to the fresh tomatoes in pico de gallo. But when it comes to regular salsa, which is generally made from canned tomatoes, I prefer more of a pureed, thin consistency.
No vinegar, dude! At all. Vinegar does not belong in salsa, which is why I’m not a big fan of salsa from a jar. Most of it contains vinegar as a preservative.
Must have cilantro, holmes! Lots and lots of cilantro.
Who knew I had such deeply felt principles?
Salsa…it just brings it out in me.
My whole point is, if you have a good blender or food processor, making salsa at home is a total snap. It’ll keep in the fridge for as long as it’ll last (which is never very long, in my experience) and is absolutely worth every second of effort.
The Cast of Characters: Whole canned tomatoes, Rotel (tomatoes and chilies), onion, fresh jalapeno, salt, sugar, garlic, and cilantro.
Dice up a little onion. You won’t need much.
Throw the canned tomatoes, juice and all, into the bowl of a food processor.
Next, dump in the two cans of Rotel.
That I used one can of Mild and one can of Original was purely an accident…but strangely, the balance of spice turned out to be just right.
Add just 1/4 cup chopped onion to the bowl. This doesn’t seem like a lot, considering that in my Pico de Gallo recipe, I preach and preach about how important it is for the onion to receive equal billing with the tomatoes. But for this salsa, it’s best to go subtle with the onions.
Now, chop up one clove of garlic and add it to the bowl.
Again: moderation, baby.
Jalapenos. Slit in half lengthwise.
Then slit the halves in half lengthwise.
Make thin slices, leaving in the seeds and membranes because you’re tough. You can take it.
Throw ’em right in with everything else.
Next, add 1/4 teaspoon sugar…
And 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Next comes some lime juice—a half a lime if it’s large, a whole lime if it’s a little one.
Next, add 1/2 to 1 cup cilantro.
I’m a cilantro freakazoid, but if you’re not, feel free to go lighter.
But it really does add a lot of flavor.
Pulse it seven or eight times.
This is pretty chunky, and you can stop here if you like this consistency. But I wanna go farther; as I stated in my diatribe above, I don’t like chunks in my salsa.
Plus, I forgot to add the cumin!
Just 1/4 teaspoon will do; this’ll give the salsa just the tiniest cumin undertone. Any more than this and it starts to get a little strong. A little—dare I say?—cuminy?
Pulse it up again until it reaches the consistency you want. I like it very homogenized, without a whole lot of distinction between ingredients. I like it smooth, baby, not chunky. Everything’s evenly distributed. The flavor’s mild but spicy…without the annoying bite of vinegar.
Vinegar in salsa = bad. Very, very bad.
Now, be sure to taste it with a tortilla chip so you can get an accurate sense of the seasonings. Adjust as needed…but I hardly ever have to add anything at this point, beyond a little more cilantro. I never add more salt—there’s plenty on the chips!
Now, it’s ideal if you can cover and refrigerate the salsa for a couple of hours at least. This’ll help everything meld and marry and mingle and become perfect.
It’s time to serve it up!
I’m sorry…but chips and salsa. What in all creation is better than this?
Sidenote: please observe my psychedelic bird dish.
Thank you for your cooperation.
It’s Hyacinth’s fault. All psychedelic bird dishes are Hyacinth’s fault.
China Check: Tracy Porter.
But this salsa? This salsa is my fault. I take full responsibility.
And as my punishment, I’ll go ahead and polish it off for you.
But first, I’m going to make nachos.
But instead of plain ol’ Monterey Jack (whose beauty is not to be underestimated) or a cheddar/jack blend, I’m breaking out the good stuff. I found these at my precious little smalltown grocery store. First Parmigiano Regianno…and now this.
Grate it up. And this brings me to one of the most important principles of making cheese nachos:
Always grate your own cheese.
This is important stuff, my friends.
Sprinkle the cheese over the first layer of chips. Don’t lay it on too thick; you want some of each chip to shine through.
I put way too much thought into nachos.
Add another layer of chips…and another layer of cheese. Then pop it in a 350 degree oven (make sure it’s an ovenproof plate) for about 5 minutes.
Pull the plate out of the oven when the cheese is hot, melted, bubbly, and eager.
Yum. Oh, yum.
And yum again. Cheese nachos. Good homemade salsa. It’s enough to bring a desperate ranch wife to tears.