I bought my first molcajete on a trip to Monterrey, Mexico in 1989. Yes, I had big plans of making all kinds of salsas and grinding spices in it, but after a few attempts to season it with no luck, I gave up! It seemed easy enough, put a little rice in there, work it in, yeah… did not work for me. Made a nice decoration, though.
On a trip to visit mi familia in Mexico last November, I was so jealous when I witnessed a few cousins whipping up salsa in their molcajetes. I was even able to see my abuelita’s original molcajete, sitting there in my tía’s kitchen. I asked them for some tips on what I could do to make mine work and the answer was, keep working on it, ha ha… To my surprise, a few weeks after I had gotten home from my trip, I received a package in the mail. A big molcajete!!! A gift from my sister-in-law Janet who lives in Austin, Texas. Guess she heard me whine one too many times. To my pleasant surprise, the rice worked wonders! I was ready to make salsa de molcajete!!! ¡Viva!
3 Roma tomatoes
3 serrano peppers
1 habanero pepper, optional
2 to 3 cloves garlic (skins on)
1 small white onion, sliced into thick slices
Juice of 1 key lime
In my kitchen, I keep one large nonstick pan that is for roasting salsa veggies only. One day I accidentally used it to make French toast, not a good outcome…:)
1. Heat a cast-iron pan or heavy nonstick pan to medium heat. Add all of the vegetables, minus the lime and cilantro. Drizzle with a bit of canola oil. Cook until the veggies start to brown, turning as needed. The onions and garlic will be ready after about 10 to 15 minutes, remove and set aside.
2. Once the rest of veggies are done, remove from heat and let them cool slightly. Start, by peeling the skins off of the garlic and tomatoes. Add 1 teaspoon salt, 1 garlic clove, 1 serrano pepper and 2 tomatoes. Using the stone, grind the chile and garlic into the salt and work the tomatoes in carefully. Gradually add in the rest of the ingredients a little at time.
3. If you need to,take some of the salsa out and transfer it to a bowl while you prepare the rest of the salsa. Stir well and taste for salt, add a little lime juice. Makes about 2 cups. A labor of love, but worth it!
This is a picture of my abuelita Sarita’s molcajete… Oh, how badly I wished it was mine…
But at least I was able to see it again. I am thankful.