Saturday, July 21, 2012

Salsa Picante de Chile de Árbol

3/4 oz. (50-60) dried chiles de árbol
2 chiles guajillo
1 1/2 tbsp. sesame seeds
2 tbsp. shelled (green) pumpkinseeds (pepitas)
1/4 cumin seed
4 lg. allspice berries
2 cloves
1 tsp. Mexican oregano
1 scant tsp. salt
2 lg. cloves garlic, peeled & rough chopped
1/2-3/4 c. cider vinegar

1.)  Stem chiles de árbol, roll between fingers, and shake out as many seeds  as possible. Stem and seed chiles guajillo. In batches, in a coffee/spice grinder, grind the chiles to a fine powder.

2.) Heat an ungreased skillet over medium-low. Add sesame seeds and stir continuously, several minutes, until the brown and pop. DO NOT ALLOW TO BURN. Move seeds to a bowl to cool. Do the same with the pumpkin seeds, until they are golden and have popped into a round form. Allow to cool. When no longer hot, grind both sesame and pumpkin seeds in a spice grinder until they are reduced to a fine powder.

3.) Pulverize cumin, allspice, and cloves in mortar or spice grinder and add to a blender jar with chile powder and ground seeds. Add oregano, salt, garlic, and. vinegar. Process, adding water, a few tablespoons at a time, just enough for the mixture to churn evenly, continuing until it is a satisfying red-orange and is quite smooth when rubbed between your fingers.

4.) Strain through a medium-mesh sieve, working the mixture with a spatula, squeezing every last bit of liquid from the remaining seeds, skins, and sesame hulls. Add water, also a few tablespoons at a time, until it reaches the desired consistency, which should be just slightly thicker than ranch dressing. The original recipe called for another 3/4 c., but I typically find it is considerably less. Refrigerate and allow to sit overnight for the flavors to mingle. The taste will improve over the days and even weeks.

Should it prove too runny, allow the solids to settle for a few days and pour off the fluid that collects at the top.

[Adapted from Rick Bayless's Authentic Mexican, pp. 40-41.]

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