Chili Salsa!

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PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
Chili salsa is a versatile condiment you can add to rice, tacos, and enchiladas or use as a dip.

There are — as most regular readers of this
publication know — any number of ways to cut down on
fuel consumption during these chilly winter days. And one
of the most pleasurable conservation techniques
involves stoking up the ol’ internal furnace with hearty cold-weather meals.

Our easy-to-follow chili salsa recipe — which produces a fiery
“stomach fuel” that’s sure to appeal to anyone who
savors spicy Mexican cuisine — can be made fresh for
immediate consumption and is also suitable
for canning or freezing.

We grow our own Anaheim chilies and jalapeños to use
in preparing this relish, but most any type of hot pepper
will do. (Remember that different varieties of the spicy
fruit will produce varied degrees of “hotness.” Your
personal taste preference will determine which peppers
— “wild” or mild — you’ll want to use.) The
only other required ingredients are ripe tomatoes, onions,
garlic, and salt. (You can, of course, use your own canned
or frozen produce to whip up a batch of the chili condiment
now that the growing season is over.)

Before we give you a specific “formula,” however,
we’d like to warn you that we’ve never followed a
written recipe. Because every batch will turn out
slightly different, be sure to taste the sauce often as
it’s being prepared and feel free to add whatever
ingredients you think are necessary.

The first thing you’ll want to do is peel about 6 to 8
chilies or jalapeño peppers (be sure to wear rubber
gloves). This is best done by roasting the spicy fruits
over a low flame (or under a broiler) and turning
them often until most of the skin becomes brown and
is loose. (They should be blistered but not burned black.)
Then, plunge the chilies into cold water, and the
skins will peel off with little effort. Remove and discard
the stems as well. (The seeds — which are usually
quite hot — can be removed or left in,
according to your taste preference.)

Now blend or chop the peppers together with 1 onion, 4 ripe
tomatoes, and a clove of garlic (you can substitute 1/2
teaspoon of garlic powder if you wish), before adding 2
teaspoons of salt to the mixture.

Remember that the amount of each ingredient may be
altered according to your taste. Just add more chili
peppers to obtain a fiery, greener relish, or use
additional ripe tomatoes if you prefer a milder, redder
sauce.

If you like the taste of raw onion, you can serve the salsa uncooked. Otherwise simply simmer it,
over low heat, until it reaches the texture you
prefer.

In the summer, when fresh garden ingredients are plentiful,
we put up large amounts of chili macho. Simply chop the
produce (using a blender will make the job easy), and place
it in a large pot with a few tablespoons of vinegar, honey,
and salt, then cook the mixture over low heat for
about an hour. Pour the spicy brew into sterile jars and
process to seal.

You’ll find chili macho to be a versatile
condiment. It’s delicious poured over pinto beans or rice,
used as a sauce on tacos and enchiladas, or added to stews.
All alone, it makes a tasty dip for crispy fried tortilla
chips. And — on a cold winter morning — you can
add the “liquid fire” to fried eggs for a really
warming breakfast!