It started out innocently enough. I picked up some tomatillos to make salsa verde and came across a bin full of dried árbol chiles. I knew through a friend that these are often used in Mexican restaurants to make the red salsa served with tortilla chips. Hmmmm. A quick search on my phone revealed a very simple recipe: 30 or so of the chili pods, garlic, lime juice, salt, some water; sounded simple enough and the photo looked like the salsa I was looking for.
I followed the directions and pulled the stems off the pods and toasted the chiles in a dry skillet while I assembled the rest of the ingredients. Once everything was placed in the food processor I added a bit of water to help everything blend and pulsed the button a few times. It looked so red and beautiful. I opened the top to scrape down the sides and my eyes started watering. Then I started coughing. It was hard to draw a breath within a two foot radius of the blender. Rut ro.
I added more water. I dumped half out and added tomatoes. I added more water and tomatoes. Every time the lid was opened I coughed. By this point I was laughing, too, because this salsa was officially a disaster. I texted my friend and told her about it. She texted me back, “If you saute the onions a little bit it tastes better.” Huh? What onions?
This stuff was HOT but, determined to salvage something, I saved some in a jar and ventured onto the internet. I noticed this new set of recipes used fewer chiles, and had helpful hints like , “Shake the most of the seeds out of the pods and discard.” One called for grilling the tomatoes. Some of them even called for ONIONS. Where were you guys earlier?
With this new information I decided to try one more time. I diced up an onion and sauteed it with a minced clove of garlic in a little olive oil. I was out of fresh tomatoes, but I had two 14 oz cans of diced tomatoes. There was plenty of cilantro and the remaining STUFF. (Did I mention that, courtesy of the pepper juice from the first batch, I found out I had a little cut on my hand? I had gloves on this time, lol.)
Once the garlic and onions were ready it was a matter of adding the two cans and a generous handful of roughly chopped cilantro. I added two teaspoons of Salsa Desastre. I saved myself some trouble and buzzed everything with the stick blender. A quick taste revealed the need for more salt and a little more of the STUFF.
I ended up with three cups of tasty salsa de árbol that had a nice heat to it along with two cups of an incredibly easy and delicious salsa verde
Bring on the chips! And the tacos! And the enchiladas!
When a recipe bombs for some reason, I chalk it up as a learning experience, but isn’t it great when it all works out? Have you been able to rescue a kitchen disaster?