A Classic Mexican Recipe
No matter whether it is breakfast, the large mid-day meal, or cena (dinner), no table in Mexico is complete without a bowl of salsa. It may be red or green, raw or cooked, mild or off the heat scale, but it will be served with every Mexican meal. Salsa Ranchera is cooked, with a tomato base, and fired with serrano chiles. It is one of the most commonly served salsas in Mexico, and the salsa that accompanies Huevos Rancheros.
The tomatoes and chiles in Salsa Ranchera are broiled or roasted until starting to turn brown and soft. Black spots are OK. Tomato skin stuck to the foil is OK. Just scrape everything into the food processor, along with any juice.
There are a number of methods for roasting tomatoes and chiles. They can be broiled, cooked on a comal over a fire, roasted in an oven, or dry-cooked on top of the stove in a heavy skillet lined with foil. I use the latter method, as I will do almost anything to avoid turning on the oven. South of the Tropic of Cancer, temperatures are high enough already.
- 4 large Roma tomatoes (about 1 lb./1/2 kilo)
- 3 serrano chiles
- 2 tablespoons mild oil
- 1/4 medium onion, small dice
- 2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Roast tomatoes and chiles, using the method of your choice (see above), turning with tongs to darken all sides.
While tomatoes and chiles are cooking, sauté onion in oil over low heat until tender and almost translucent. Do not allow to brown. Add minced garlic and cook 30 seconds more.
Cut out stem ends of cooked tomatoes and cut into quarters. Remove stems and seeds from chiles; cut into quarters. To remove seeds, spear the chile with a fork, cut in half, and then use the tip of the knive to scrape out the seeds.
Blend chiles, tomatoes, onion and garlic in a food processor until roughly pureed, but not completely smooth. Texture is good.
Add tomatoes and chiles to the hot skillet to join the tender onion and garlic. Simmer for 3-5 minutes over a medium-hot flame until slightly thickened.
Salt to taste and enjoy with tostada chips, spooned over eggs and meats, or with almost anything served on a plate or in a tortilla. Salsa is the ketchup of Mexico, but much more tasty, varied and appealing.
A tostada chip heading for my mouth. Ole!