Monday, February 10, 2014

Black Bear's Roasted Tomato Salsa

This recipe is time consuming, but worth the effort.  While grilling my veggies last summer, I drew the attention of our resident black bear (the veggies smelled divine).  I didn't want to leave the grill for a photo then, but included a more recent image of him here (dining with a few feathered friends).

If you don't want to stand over a hot grill, you may roast the tomatoes, peppers and onions on a foil lined, oiled cookie sheet, skin side-up. Set the oven to broil and the rack about 4 inches from the heat element. Watch for the skin to blacken and peel. When it does, remove from heat.

Plum (or Roma) tomatoes are the meatiest variety for this recipe, but I have shopped around late in the season for canning tomatoes or 'seconds' and used them with success too.  Remember not to use anything too soft and remove small blemishes with a sharp paring knife, before roasting.

5 pounds tomatoes (about 9 cups), halved lengthwise, cores removed
10 red jalapeno chiles
2 - 3 inferno chiles
2 heads of garlic with the top sliced off for roasting
3 medium sized sweet onions, peeled and cut into quarters
about 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon salt (or more to suit)
2 tablespoons sugar
5 pint jars

Wash all veggies.  Core the chiles and remove seeds with a grapefruit spoon (wear food service gloves).

Using long handles tongs, roast the tomatoes on a clean grill.  You'll have to keep turning them as they char.  Don't be afraid to let the skins blacken and peel (blisters) away as you cook them.  This is what makes the salsa so good.  Much liquid will leak out of the maters as well.  No worries on this account either.

Remove the tomatoes to a very large bowl.  More liquid will seep out as they sit.

Next, roast the peppers and onions.

Back inside the house, drizzle a little olive oil down into the exposed raw garlic.  Wrap each head in tin foil and place into a small oven proof dish. Roast in the oven at about 400 degrees until the garlic cloves are soft.

Meanwhile, peel the cooled tomatoes, and peppers, leaving little charred bits that cling to flesh. Reserve the veggie liquid in the bottom of the bowl.

Working in batches, chop the veggies in a food processor or blender. When the garlic is roasted, squeeze the cloves from their jackets, and add to the tomato mixture. Transfer the veggies and reserved liquid, into a wide preserving pot, and add the remaining ingredients. Boil five minutes, stirring to prevent scorching.

Ladle the salsa into sterile pint sized jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Seal jars and process in boiling water bath, 40 minutes.

Enjoy with corn chips!

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