A Tale of Two Salsas – Featuring Guajillo Chiles

May 18, 2013Katie

I have an addiction for salsas.

I seek them out at Mexican restaurants and always want to know what “secret” salsas they’re hiding and not bringing out unless asked for.

Many places have specialty salsas that you can only get when asked.  My salsa fetish has me on a quest during this season of my life to try out ones a little more authentic, which led me to Guajillo Chiles.


Below you’ll find two salsas made with Guajillo chiles; one, the Toasted Guajillo Salsa, is a rich and smoky deep salsa that is perfect for spooning over grilled chicken or steak.  The other, a Guajillo Chile Roja,  again features toasted Guajillos but this time adds tomatoes, cilantro and onion for a bright salsa with hints of smokiness for scooping up with chips.

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I picked these up at my local Whole Foods some time ago and they’ve sat in a glass on my kitchen window waiting for me to figure out what the heck to do with them. Guajillo Chiles are really just dried mirasol chiles.They are not hot at all really, so there is  no need to be afraid of them or their seeds.  At least the ones I used weren’t.

Both salsas start out the same way.

The first thing you’ll need to do is snap off the stem end.  Then if you desire, shake out the seeds.

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Next time I won’t shake out near as many seeds, as this wasn’t hot at all.  Then I placed five or six of the chiles in a single layer in my cast iron pan.  You could use a non-stick heavy fry pan as well.  Turn the heat to medium-high and press down with a spatula to make sure most of the surface of the is covered.

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You’ll almost immediately begin to smell their aroma after about 20-30 seconds and they may change color a bit and puff up as well.  At that point, flip them over for another 20 seconds and press them again, then remove them to a platter or plate.

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I did roughly about 9 chiles total.

Now, take some scissors and just roughly snip them into rings into a medium bowl.]

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Pour about 2 cups of water over them and make sure it’s pretty hot, but not boiling.

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Let them sit for 20 minutes.

While they’re percolating, add 3 garlic cloves with the skin still on them to the skillet.

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Flip them every once in awhile for a total of about 8-10 minutes until their outside is charred.

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Then peel them.

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When your chiles are done soaking, drain one cup of the (now dark) water  into a measuring cup.  Pour the rest out and drain your chiles.

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Pour them into a food processor (or good blender) and pour the one cup of soaked chile water in with them.

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Add in one teaspoon of salt.

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Add in your garlic.

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Squeeze in one-half of a large lime lime (or about 3 tablespoons).

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Pop the lid on your food processor and blend everything up.

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This makes a rich dark and smoky salsa reminiscent of the flavors of mole. It would fantastic over grilled chicken or steak as a sauce. It’s not too hot and the pungent smokiness (in my opinion), would be better used that way instead of scooped up with chips.

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But no worries! The second recipe is most definitely a chip scooper recipe!

Do the same thing you did with the first recipe.  Toast the chiles, snip, cover with water and soak,  but this time, add one can of whole peeled tomatoes including their juice (only add 1/2 cup of the soaked chile water), a handful of cilantro, one small onion and a 2 teaspoons of salt along with the toasted chiles and garlic and water.

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This produces a more tomato-like salsa with hints of smokiness and is wonderful with chips or on tortillas or whatever else makes you smile.

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Do you have a favorite salsa recipe? It’s fun to venture into another realm of goodness and play with chiles! Try one or both of these  sometime and let me know what you think!

Toasted Guajillo Salsa
 
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This salsa is deep and charred and smoky and is fantastic served over chicken or steak
Author:
Recipe type: Sauce
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 9 dried guajillo chiles
  • 3 cloves garlic, skin on
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2 c. hot water
  • 3 T. fresh lime juice
Instructions
  1. Snap off stem of chiles and shake out about half the seeds.
  2. Toast chiles in batches in dry nonstick skillet, about 20-30 seconds per side, pressing them down with spatula.
  3. Snip toasted chiles roughly into rings into medium bowl and cover with hot water for 20 minutes.
  4. In same skillet, toast garlic with skin on for 8-10 minutes until skin is charred. Remove and peel garlic.
  5. Drain water from chiles after 20 minutes into one up measuring cup and discard remaining water.
  6. Add chiles and reserved one cup of water to food processor or blender
  7. Add garlic, salt and lime juice and processor until fairly smooth.

Guajillo Salsa Roja
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
a Tomato version of Guajillo salsa to enjoy with chips!
Author:
Recipe type: Sauce
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • 9 dried guajillo chiles
  • 3 cloves garlic, skin on
  • 2 c. hot water
  • 3 T. fresh lime juice
  • 1 28 oz. can whole peel tomatoes
  • ⅔ c. cilantro
  • 1 small or ½ large onion
  • 2 t. salt
Instructions
  1. Snap off stem of chiles and shake out about half the seeds.
  2. Toast chiles in batches in dry nonstick skillet, about 20-30 seconds per side, pressing them down with spatula.
  3. Snip toasted chiles roughly into rings into medium bowl and cover with hot water for 20 minutes.
  4. In same skillet, toast garlic with skin on for 8-10 minutes until skin is charred. Remove and peel garlic.
  5. Drain water from chiles after 20 minutes into ½ cup measuring cup and discard remaining water.
  6. Add chiles and reserved one cup of water to food processor or blender
  7. Add tomatoes, onion, garlic, salt and lime juice and processor until fairly smooth.

 

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