Salsa Ahumada

It’s barbecue season! With today being Father’s Day and the Fourth of July approaching, why not add a salsa that also brings that smoky and fiery flavor?

Salsa Ahumada translates to smoky sauce in English and is true to its name. The roasted tomatoes, onions, and garlic mixed in Mexican Crema with mesquite salt, epazote, and chipotle powder will have you ready to fire up the grill.

The chipotle powder is the key to this salsa. Chipotles are actually dried jalapeños, and when grounded up they give off a spicy and smokey flavor. I saved several jalapeños from my garden last year to use for a chipotle powder. I placed the jalapeños by my window seal to let them dry out for a few weeks. Once they were completely shriveled I grounded them in my molcajete along with cumin, dried oregano, and ginger to create the powder. If you have the time and patience to let peppers dry, I recommend this as a fun project for making your own chipotle powder. If not it can be easily found at your grocery store.

The other ingredient that makes Salsa Ahumada stand out is epazote. This is an herb that originates from Southern Mexico, possessing a strong aromatic taste. Think of it like oregano, but much stronger. You do want to be cautious with it, as it can be toxic if too much is consumed. That’s why I keep this salsa to three epazote leaves, just enough to give Ahumada that added flavor. If you want to read more about the background of epazote, I recommend reading Mely Martínez’s article from Mexico in My Kitchen.

I originally came across epazote at a farmer’s market in Sedona from a farmer based out of Chino Valley, Arizona. Since then I have used it in a variety of salsas including Salsa Ahumada.

When I have had family and friends snack on Salsa Ahumada, they usually pick up on these new ingredients right away. The salsa can be an addictive snack, but don’t be afraid to also add it to those grilled burgers, hot dogs, or carne asada. I ended up using Salsa Ahumada on top of my Sonoran Hot Dogs I grilled and it was the perfect compliment to one of Tucson’s most-prized delicacies. If you’re not familiar with Sonoran Hot Dogs they are a bacon-wrapped hot dog with pinto beans inside a bolillo roll, topped with diced tomatoes, grilled onions, mayonnaise, and mustard.

3 Roma Tomatoes, roasted
6 White Onion slices, roasted
3 Garlic cloves, roasted
1 cup Mexican Crema
1 tsp Chipotle powder
1 tsp Ground Mexican Oregano
¾ tsp Mesquite Salt
3 Dried Epazote leaves
1 tsp Salt
½ tsp Pepper

Roast the tomatoes, onion slices, and garlic cloves over the stove or in the oven. Once they are lightly charred on all sides place them inside a blender. Purée for ten seconds and before adding all the remaining ingredients. Blend for a minute before tasting. If the salsa is too mild for your tasting, add another ½ tsp of chipotle powder.

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