Hotter than Hades Salsa

Hotter Than Hades Salsa

1997 was the year of the salsa (no, I am not referring to the dance). After every batch, Mark asked “Can you make it hotter?” That is, until this version. He took in a big scoop, wiped the perspiration from his brow and gasped “Oh. This one is just right!” If you can’t take the heat, just use milder peppers. For a garden fresh version, serve straight from the blender without cooking.

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 30 mins
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • 16 ounces canned diced tomato or peeled vine-ripened tomato
Pulse a couple of times in a blender or food processor to knock down the volume.

Tip: If using fresh tomatoes, cut a shallow X on blossom ends and add to a pot of boiling water for 30-60 seconds. Promptly extract with a slotted spoon; plunge into a bowl of cold/iced water for 10-15 seconds. Peel with your fingers; discard skins.
Tomato skins tend to curl up unattractively in sauces. Any setting other than “pulse” causes froth formation.
  • 3 ounces chopped white or yellow onion
Add to tomatoes.

Tip: With an onion on its side, cut off and discard both ends. Cut in half from pole to pole; discard dry or tough layers. Place cut sides down and slice to 1 inch, holding pieces together as you work. Cut across slices to chop.
Holding the slices together reduces exposure to eye-irritants.
  • 1 garlic clove (¼ ounce)
  • 1 Habanera or 5-6 red Serrano peppers, stemmed
  • ¼ cup cider or white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon oregano flakes
  • 2 teaspoons cilantro flakes
  • 1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
Add all to tomatoes; pulse to desired consistency. Transfer to a 12-inch tri-ply everyday pan; bring to the boil over medium-high heat. Promptly reduce heat to hold at a simmer, where bubbles continually break the surface without spattering. Gently stir until reduced to desired consistency.

Tip: After separating a garlic clove from the head; cut off the root end. Place the broad side of a chef’s knife over top; strike with your fist or palm. Release peel and discard.
Hot pepper membranes and seeds add maximum heat to the salsa. A wide pan promotes rapid evaporation, minimizing cooking time. Cooked onions add a natural sweetness.