Saturday, September 19, 2020

If it’s Tuesday it must be poblanos

| September 6, 2020 12:00 AM

Those who know me well know one of my summer pastimes is roasting peppers — lots of peppers.

I park our old charcoal grill in the shade on the patio and squeeze in opportunities during the week and on the weekends to grill up batches. On a recent Saturday I roasted a batch of Hatch peppers — capitalized because they’re exclusively grown in Hatch, New Mexico.

Monday I roasted a second batch of Hatches.

Tuesday I roasted poblanos.

Wednesday, I roasted jalapenos.

My family takes advantage of all these roasted peppers, nestling them on sandwiches, roasts, eggs, chili and soups.

Of course, plenty are destined for my salsa, the making of which is typically reserved for a day where the weather draws me indoors chopping and dicing, cooking and canning for the long winter days ahead.

Salsa making is an all-day affair best savored with the windows flung open, a soundtrack of good music and tall glasses of iced tea with lemon.

Advanced preparation is key in what could otherwise turn into a one-man Keystone Kops caper. The peppers have already been roasted of course, but the fresher the rest of the ingredients are the better; garlic and onions should never be chopped in advance because they will lose some of their flavor. Here’s why:

When you cut into an onion or garlic — both members of the Allium family — the cut cell walls release the enzyme alliinase, which in turn interacts with the onion’s amino acid alliin containing sulphur. Some chefs believe the chopped vegetable then develops an “old onion” taste.

The salsa, which is simmered on the stove for an hour before it’s canned, is smoky-flavored with a nice bit of heat (there’s no such thing as too hot in my family … at least I haven’t found it yet … except the time I accidentally filled the paprika jar with chili powder … but that’s another story). This salsa’s flavor profile is hearty — pounds of firm Italian plum tomatoes, onions and garlic from my garden — the garlic delicately oven-roasted, along with tart tomatillos for their citrusy taste.

The pints are filled, the canner loaded and timer set for 10 minutes.

Remove jars from water bath and listen for the welcome, familiar ting of the lids as they cool on the counter.

Recipe follows:

Carol’s Homemade Salsa — Makes about 10 pints

3 ½-4 lbs. Roma tomatoes

About 8 roasted poblanos, peeled, seeded, diced

About 8 roasted Hatch peppers, peeled, seeded, diced

About 4 roasted jalapenos, peeled, seeded, diced

1 green bell pepper, seeded, diced

1 orange bell pepper, seeded, diced

2 ½ cups chopped onions

6 large cloves roasted garlic, finely chopped or pressed

¾ cup roasted tomatillos

24 oz. can crushed tomatoes

6 oz can tomato paste

2-3 Tbsp. adobo, pureed

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

¼ cup fresh squeezed lime juice

Plenty of fresh Italian flat leaf parsley (Some of my family members have a strong aversion to cilantro, but you can use it instead if you prefer.)

2 Tbsp. sugar

1 Tbsp. salt or to taste

2 tsp. pepper or to taste

Glass of wine

Brown tomato paste for 10 minutes but keep scraping bottom of pan. Chop tomatoes and tomatillos in food processor. Add all remaining ingredients except wine to large pot and simmer uncovered for an hour.

Add parsley right before canning. Follow all proper canning procedures.

Drink the wine.

Community and Entertainment editor Carol Marino may be reached at 406-758-4440 or