For decades, my grandmother has been making what I consider to be the best salsa I've ever had. Of course, everyone thinks their family makes the best food, but I'm a realist. If it wasn't good, I wouldn't let pride get in the way of admitting that. I remember as a kid, being around my grandmother while she cooked in the kitchen and staring in awe at the insane amounts of work she put into feeding all of us. It's a very old and traditional Mexican family. During the holidays, it sometimes took her two, or even three days to prepare a huge meal for all of my aunts, uncles, cousins, and extended family.
My grandfather recently passed away, and I figured it was time to share the family secret of this mouth-watering recipe, so your family can [perhaps] start a tradition (mainly during Thanksgiving), of making this amazingly flavorful, thick salsa that's hard to put down. No one has ever been able to replicate this exactly, so I'll give you a very detailed breakdown.
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Step 1: Ingredients
36 Fresh, raw Jalapeños
16 Roma Tomatoes
2 Large Yellow Onions
2 Small Cans of Tomato Paste
1 Block of Sharp Cheddar Cheese
You will need a small, cheap food processor. I got mine for $7 at the dollar store.
Step 2: Jalapeño Fever
Cut the tops off of your Jalapeños. Then cut them into slices that are small enough to fit into a food processor. Make sure you include the seeds, this is what gives it some heat! Dice some fresh garlic and onions, and put them into the processor as well. I didn't include exactly how much garlic to use, because it'll be based on your own personal taste. I used 3 spoonfuls of it, personally. Yeah, I could never be a vampire. Turn your food processor on until everything is finely chopped, but not so small where it looks like it's being blended.
Step 3: Tomato Time!
Now, after you have all of your Jalapeños, onions, and garlic processed, HAND-CUT your tomatoes into small chunks. You don't want to process these because the texture will not be as great, and you don't want to liquefy your tomatoes. For me personally, once I have a slice of tomato, I cut it in half, then slice it 4 times after turning it 90 degrees, as seen in the second picture on the bottom left. This seems to be the perfect size. Mix well!
Step 4: Wait, Cheese?
Although it might sound like an odd addition to salsa, sharp cheddar has been one of the best parts of this recipe. For those of you who aren't a huge fan of the Jalapeño heat, it helps cut down on the heat just a bit. For those of you that love the heat, it's simply a great addition to this fresh, delicious recipe. Make sure to cut the cheese (yes, someone always inevitably end up giggling during this process) into small rectangular cubes. I make mine small enough where I can get salsa and a piece of cheese on a "scoop" chip. I don't recommend you make your salsa without this step. Yum!
Step 5: Ahhh, the Finale!
So what's the secret ingredient to this amazing recipe? What holds everything together, and ensures a taste of tradition? Tomato paste. Tomato paste is the last step, and be careful how much you add. Too much will result in an almost bittering and dulling of flavors. Too little, and you won't have the right texture or taste. My recommendation? 1 1/2 of the SMALL tomato paste cans per 36 Jalapeños. This has seemed to be the magic ratio my grandmother used. She doesn't speak a lot of English so I had to do my best to guess. This is a chunky salsa by literal definition, but we always just called it "chili" in my family.
And that's it! I'm so happy I was able to share this recipe with all of you. Most of my older relatives from Mexico have passed away, but I refuse to let this recipe go with them. This has been a family tradition since long before I was born. Although you don't know me or my family on a personal level, we believe that sharing food is one of the most welcoming, and kind things you can do. It's a sign of trust, respect, and gratitude toward another human. Consider this my sign of respect for all of you, in today's technologically advanced society. Help me keep this tradition alive. Make it yourself and see. You can half the recipe to make a smaller batch. Perhaps you and your family can enjoy it and make it a tradition of your own. I HIGHLY recommend this around Thanksgiving. This salsa seems to be great with Turkey, and stuffing.
Thank you for reading, and I hope every one of you has a Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas this year! Enjoy your family while they're here, and make a new tradition this year using some amazing chili!