Bring on the summer heat with chipotle salsa

Betty Williams Columnist, The Friday Flyer

Betty Williams
Columnist, The Friday Flyer

Cleaning the inside of the fridge the other day, I noticed we have a lot of bottled sauces. I mean, A LOT. In total, there were 16 bottles of various sauces. No wonder there never seems to be any breathing space on the shelves of our fridge door.

The inside of the refrigerator is one place that is easy to forget to clean; but since we have house guests this summer, I thought I should put it on my list of things to do. Who’s visiting? A longtime family friend, my mom and possibly my mother-in-law.

Our guest this month is a family friend, a fantastic young woman who is home for the summer from Honduras. She babysat our children for several years before moving away to college and working overseas. Calling places like Israel, South Korea, and now Honduras “home,” she is internationally savvy and has shared some great stories with us about life outside America.

My husband and I have enjoyed our share of travel and life outside the United States. I think that partially explains why we have 16 bottled sauces crammed inside our fridge door. In addition to mayo, barbecue, two kinds of ketchup and two kinds of mustard, we’ve got Mexican salsa, Italian pesto, Spanish anchovy paste, Japanese soy sauce, Chinese Hoisin sauce, Chinese oyster sauce, Thai fish sauce, Thai Mae Ploy sweet chili sauce, Thai Sriracha, and Korean gochujang.

What, pray tell, are we pouring all those sauces on? Any meat, fish, pasta, rice and vegetables are fair game. I think the question is, what are we not pouring those sauces on? Hmm, breakfast cereal is the only thing that comes to mind.

The eldest of my three children is my “sauciest” child, as it were. He, more than the others, likes to experiment with all the sauces we have. And, not surprisingly, he really likes the hot stuff.

Normally, we have more than one kind of Mexican salsa on hand, but we drained a bottle last week on my husband’s famous egg, potato, and bacon breakfast burritos. Feeling the need to have more than one salsa around for, you know, more choices, I decided to make some salsa.

I spied a salsa recipe in Parade magazine a few months ago and was intrigued by the ingredient list. Chipotle chilies, molasses, balsamic vinegar and soy sauce? Whaaat? This sounded like something my family would be interested in.

The result was a dark, slightly sweet, slightly sour, really hot salsa called “salsa negra,” or black salsa. My eldest child (aka “He of the Iron Stomach”) declared it “really good, with a heat that sneaks up and punches you.” Salsa success.

Although it was printed in Parade, this week’s recipe is originally from TV chef Rick Bayless’ most recent cookbook, (whose title will, depending on your viewpoint, make you groan or giggle) “More Mexican Everyday.”

This salsa is delicious on just about everything (except breakfast cereal). If you want to tame the heat, combine it with sour cream for a yummy dip, or with cream cheese for a sweet-hot spread for sandwiches. And because it keeps well, I see this salsa becoming the 17th sauce to inhabit our fridge door.

Sweet-Hot Chipotle Salsa

   (aka Salsa Negra)

2 (7½-oz) cans chipotle chilies in adobo

2 Tbsp. molasses

¼ cup (packed) dark brown sugar

¼ cup balsamic vinegar or sweet sherry vinegar

¼ cup soy sauce

Place the chilies (with canning liquid), molasses, sugar, vinegar and ½ cup water in a blender and process until completely smooth. Scrape into a small saucepan over medium heat. Let the mixture come to a brisk simmer, then turn the heat to medium-low and continue simmering, stirring regularly, until the mixture is the consistency of tomato paste, about 30 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the soy sauce. If necessary, add water, a splash at a time, until the salsa is the consistency of runny ketchup.

Cool, taste and season with salt if needed. Refrigerate salsa in a tightly covered pint-sized jar, where it will keep for a month or two.


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