Prepackaged salsas used to have a hold on me. My favorite, Mrs. Renfro’s, knew just what I needed in a good salsa: a subtly roasted flavor, slightly chunky texture, a teeny bit of spice. She dominated my shelves for years with her perky little label and her chubby glass jar. She kept a firm hold on my non-profit worker’s salary with her $4.50 price tag too.
Unfortunately, M’lady Renfro, you have officially been retired!
Until making the move to Mexico, I always bought Mrs. Renfro salsa to satiate my hankering for chips and dip. Homemade salsa seemed like such a cumbersome chore of chopping and roasting and finding the right balance of flavors. Not to mention the sheer intimidation of the task. And then I watched my roommate casually concoct a most simple and delicious salsa on the grill and it blew the top off of everything I’ve ever known about this Mexican mainstay. He quite simply demystified the art of salsa making in a matter of minutes and forever changed my tomato sauce trajectory. GRACIAS, DANIEL!!!
Roasted Tomato Salsa
6 Tomatillos (green tomatoes)
½ Large White Onion in wedges
1-2 Serrano Chiles (Depending on the heat you prefer)
3 Garlic Cloves
3 Tablespoons Chopped Cilantro
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
½ Teaspoon Ground Oregano
Juice of One Lime
If you don’t have quick access to a hot grill for this salsa, the smooth roasted flavor can be captured on the stovetop. If you have a cast iron skillet or Mexican comal, you are good to go.
Clean and dry tomatoes and chiles. Slice onion in wedges. Heat up griddle or comal and arrange all veggies except the garlic and cilantro on top of it. Gently rotate veggies until all sides are charred and wrinkled and perfectly roasted.
Turn the heat off. While the veggies cool, finely chop garlic and cilantro. Once cooled enough for your fingers to handle, remove the skins from tomatoes and place them in your molcajete (mortal and pestal, aka Mexican Blender) or food processor. Remove the seeds and pith from the serrano peppers and chop finely.
Chop those onions up too!
Place all ingredients in the mortar and pestle, food processor, or blender, and process to desired consistency. Add salt, but don’t overdo it because you know how flavors can change after they sit for even a short while.
Now, go to town and enjoy this because it is outrageously good. And if you’re anything like me, you will feel so proud and triumphant after making your own salsa.
Take that, Renfro!