We started planning our garden as soon as we bought our house last year. Granted, that was last summer and we obviously couldn’t start planting until this spring…but we were very excited. I researched raised bed gardens. We planned out the orchard we would start in the back yard (which ended up being a total fail). Every time we went to Home Depot, we would talk about what vegetables to get – even before they had any gardening supplies out.
I think one thing we were most excited about was growing a million tomatoes and making our own pasta sauce. We ended up with 18 tomato plants (!!!) but we never seemed to get the huge surplus we needed to make pasta sauce. The recipes in my canning book called for at least 15-20 pounds, and we were definitely nowhere close.
Eventually, we decided to set our sights a little lower, and we settled on salsa ranchera. It seemed pretty easy, it didn’t call for any strange ingredients, and we only needed three pounds of tomatoes. Perfect!
Naturally, hubs suggested smoking the veggies instead of roasting them in the oven. I have to say, it was a completely brilliant idea! I’ve never craved salsa even though we use it a lot, but I could eat this smoked salsa with a spoon. It’s that good. The smoke combines subtly with the other flavors of the salsa – it doesn’t overpower it at all. In fact, our friend didn’t realize it was smoked salsa until we told him…although at that point he realized that was the flavor he couldn’t put his finger on.
Note that the ingredients are mainly the same as the original Ball recipe, we just adjusted the roasting instructions for the smoker. If you want to can the salsa, check out steps 5 and 6 in the Ball recipe.
- 3 pounds plum tomatoes
- 3-4 jalapeños
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 medium white onion
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ cup fresh cilantro
- ⅓ cup lime juice
- Prepare and heat your smoker to around 275-300 degrees. We've made this a couple times using various combinations of beech, cherry, and oak wood chunks.
- Meanwhile, core the tomatoes. Cut the jalapeños in half length-wise, and remove the seeds and ribs for a less spicy salsa. Peel the garlic cloves. Cut the onion into half-inch slices (like onion rings) and remove the outer layer of paper. Put the jalapeños onto one piece of foil, and the garlic onto another.
- Roast all of the veggies except the garlic for 40 minutes. Add the garlic and roast for another 20 minutes. The tomato skins should be splitting, and everything should look golden to dark brown. Remove to a large bowl or some other vessel that can capture the liquid.
- Peel the tomato skins off as much as possible - they should easily pull off. Don't worry if a few skins are stuck on, just try to get the majority. Coarsely chop the tomatoes on a cutting board that can capture a lot of liquid. Add the tomatoes and all liquid to a large pot.
- Dice the jalapeños and onions, adding to the pot. Finely chop the garlic and add to the pot. Stir in the salt.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer for a couple minutes. Turn off the heat and add the cilantro and lime juice.
- To can the salsa, follow the directions in steps 5 and 6 in the original recipe. If you're using it immediately, store in the refrigerator like any other salsa.