Smoky Green Apple Salsa Verde
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1 pound tomatillos, husked and rinsed, then each cut in half
1 Granny Smith apple, cut in half
½ yellow onion, cut into thirds
2 jalapeño peppers, stemmed and seeded
5 cloves garlic
2 cups water
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
½ cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
Prepare a charcoal grill for a medium-hot fire. When the coals are ashen, dump them onto one side for indirect grilling.
If using a gas grill, preheat the grill with all burners on high. When it reaches a temperature of 500 degrees, adjust for indirect grilling. With a two-burner grill, turn off one of the burners; with three or more burners, turn off the center unit.
Grill the tomatillos and apple halves, cut sides down, until they begin to blacken, 2-5 minutes. Drain the wood chips and add them to the charcoal. If using gas, place the drained chips in an aluminum foil pouch with a few fork holes on top, or in a smoker box, and place on the grate.
Move the tomatillos and apple halves to the cool side of the grill and close the lid. Smoke them for no more than 5 minutes; you don't want them to get over-smoked, but you do want to impart a lovely smoke flavor. Transfer to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, chop the tomatillos. Peel and core the apple, then cut it into small dice.
Combine the smoked tomatillos, onion, jalapeños, garlic and water in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium or medium-low so the liquid is barely bubbling at the edges; cook for about 10 minutes, so the vegetables become tender. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the vegetables (only) to a mixing bowl.
Increase the heat to high and bring the remaining liquid to a boil; cook until it has reduced to ½ cup. Pour over the vegetables in the bowl. Stir in the salt. Transfer the vegetable mixture (and its liquid) to a blender; pulse to form a salsa that's almost smooth. Add the cilantro and pulse 2 or 3 times just to incorporate.
Transfer to a serving bowl; fold in the diced apple. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed.
Makes 3-3½ cups.
Cook's note: You'll need to soak 1 cup of apple wood chips in water for an hour. The salsa can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Nutrition values per 2-tablespoon serving: 10 calories, 0 fat, 2 g carbohydrates, 0 fiber, 1 g sugar, 0 protein, 0 cholesterol, 75 mg sodium.
Adapted from "Smoke: New Firewood Cooking" by Tim Byres (Rizzoli, 2013)
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