3-alarm smoked chili pepper salsa

smoking chilis on the grill

this weekend i decided to take the modest bounty of red jalapeño chilis and make salsa. i only had a handful, so i supplemented my harvest of jalapeño and poblano with more from the farmer’s market, adding some half-red anaheims. then i swung by my friend’s house to pick up some habañeros to throw in too. i smoked 11 of them so i could return 6 to him for another salsa project, but i used 5.

i read up on smoking peppers and found that it’s a simple process of adding hardwood chips to coals at about 200 degrees. i had to do mine by sight, but they got a good smoking for a few hours on the grill. i separated amar’s chilis and got to work slicing and seeding the roasted peppers. i reserved the seeds in the event that the salsa needed more heat, but once i got to cooking i found that 5 habañeros was more than enough for my tolerance.

blended salsa

many recipes for chipotle salsa call for tomato paste, but i was determined to make everything from scratch, so i used 2 jars of tomatoes i canned last summer, and simmered them with a chopped onion and minced garlic until they reduced sufficiently. i also chose to blend it to the above consistency, but you could certainly keep it chunky if that’s you’re preference.

finished salsa in a jar

i took a close-up of the jar to show the particulates. there’s a lot of roasty goodness in there. the finished product is the consistency of tomato sauce, but you could thin it down with cider vinegar for more of a pepper sauce, which i might try with some of it, because it’s so spicy! i composed this recipe myself, feel free to use it as a base for interpretation.

3-alarm smoked chili pepper salsa
10 medium red jalapeños
2 medium poblanos
2 medium red anaheims
5 medium habañeros
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
16 oz crushed tomatoes
2 tbs olive oil
4 tbs white balsamic, white wine, or cider vinegar
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
2 tbs sugar
1 tsp salt

charcoal briquettes
hickory chips
charcoal BBQ grill
rubber gloves

light your charcoal briquettes in your BBQ. while they light and come to temperature, and soak hickory chips in a bowl of water about 20 minutes. when the briquettes are lit, spread them out, sprinkle some hickory chips over them and put your grill in place.

put your selection of chili peppers on the grill, turning as needed as they char on all sides. add hickory chips as needed and cover the grill so the smoke flavor can infuse into the chilis. they are ready when all sides are charred and they appear partly wilted and cooked through. [mine took a couple hours.]

while the chilis are smoking, add the olive oil to a saucepan and simmer the chopped onion on medium heat until translucent. add the minced garlic and simmer 5 minutes more. add the crush tomatoes and simmer uncovered until reduced and thickened [i did mine 30 minutes].

when the chilis are ready, take them to the kitchen and put on your rubber gloves [hot chili pepper oil is an irritant and should not come in contact with your skin in this quantity]. slice each pepper lengthwise, cut the stem off around the top and scrape the seeds with the blade of your knife into a bowl. you can reserve the seeds to add if you’d like to increase the heat later.

allow your tomato sauce to cool or work in small batches. puree the tomato mixture with the roasted peppers, balsamic vinegar, remaining wine/cider vinegar, crushed garlic, sugar and salt. taste and adjust seasoning to your preference.

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