Sunday, June 14, 2009

Roasted Green and Red Salsas

I got this cool new comal for my birthday and have finally got the unique device ready for its maiden voyage. Its primary uses are for roasting vegetables, grilling meat, and even cooking tortillas.

Carne asada is the dish for the night and I will be describing its process for making it in a future posting. To complement this meat dish, roasted green and red salsas are on the menu.

Adapted from Rick Bayless "Mexico, One Plate At a Time" PBS series.

Ingredients for roasted green salsa vary depending on the spiciness that you desire. I chose a serano pepper today so the salsa wouldn't be too spicy. You can easily substitute a couple of jalepenos to turn up the heat.

Get you comal (or barbecue grill) hot on in one area. This is the center, right over the burner with the comal. Roast the chile over this intense heat. Turn every few minutes and let it blacken on all sides.

While the chile is roasting, we need to roast the rest of the vegetables over an indirect heat. This is the outer ring of the comal or unlit side of the barbeque. Cut the tomatillos in half and put over the medium heat. Place on a piece of aluminum foil if you are using a grill to minimize the mess. Cut the white onion into quarters lengthwise, spray lightly with olive oil, and place on the heat along with few cloves of garlic. Let everything else brown on both sides turning once.

I wanted to get a smooth consistency for the green salsa, so I put all the ingredients into a food processor with a little water. Finally, add salt and lime juice to taste and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Next, the roasted, chunky red salsa.

This time, I put a serano chile, red bell pepper, and jalepeno pepper on the intense heat. Over medium heat, add 3/4 of a white onion sprayed lightly with olive oil along with 5 cloves of garlic. Let the peppers blacken on all sides and allow everything else to brown on both sides.

I took a more rustic approach to processing this salsa, using a molcajete (mortar and pestle) made from lava rock. Each of the ingredients were roughly ground and mixed together in a bowl. Again, salt and lime juice are added to taste. This one was served without refrigeration and it turned out fine.

Both salsas are great additions to many Mexican dishes and also work great for chips and salsa. As you can see, substituting a variety of ingredients and techniques offers a wide variety of flavors and textures.