It has been said that necessity is the Mother of invention. For dinner I was making chicken envueltos also called 'flautas', and you absolutely have to have salsa when eating envueltos. Well that, and Mexican rice and refried beans of course. Anyhow, I was out of fresh tomatoes, which I prefer, and upon checking my pantry, I discovered I didn't have any cans of crushed or whole tomatoes to make it with. What's a cook to do? I may have very well discovered a new version of Mexican hot salsa, or hot sauce. I could probably name it MexIta sauce, since it's a mixture of Mexican and Italian flavors. I happened to have different brands of jars of Italian pasta sauces. Now I knew Prego or Ragu just wouldn't do, because they have such a strong 'oregano' or classic spaghetti sauce flavor. I needed something that was more about tomatoes and less about Italian spices. So there I was in the middle of my kitchen reading ingredient labels. I found this one, but I took the picture after I had rinsed out the bottle:
I proceeded to use it by first toasting the dried 'chile de arbol' pods over a skillet, then tossing into boiling water with three large cloves of garlic, cooking until well hydrated and softened. After draining the chiles, I added them with the garlic to the tomato sauce in the blender. You do have to be careful at this stage because suddenly breathing in the fumes can induce an uncomfortable coughing fit! The resulting product was thick and smelled earthy and rustic and just plain delicious. And the color! Oh, what a festive shade of red!
Who would've thought that it works! I really like the texture the tomatoes give the salsa. It's a velvety almost unctuous feel that is hard to describe. It's an intense flavor, different from your traditional hot salsa. It doesn't have the bright, crisp and clean flavors of traditional Mexican sauces. This is something different. A sauce for when you want something a little 'different'. So next time you're fresh out of an ingredient, use and make do with what you have. You just might find that you've discovered a special treat! I'm thinking I may have to do a poor man's copyright on this!