welcome to Never fails, a weekly column in which we make poetry on recipes that never let us down.Welcome to Central Condiment, near the last shelf of my fridge. Among the motley crew of jars labeled with masking tape there is intensely garlicky toum, crisp chili oil, zhug, pomegranate molasses, spicy tofu crumbled, dulce de leche, and the container still almost empty first, Smoked Salsa Roja. Sweet, sensual, and just the right balance of fire, tangy and sweet, it has the magical ability to turn a bag of tortilla chips into dinner. (Or, when I feel a little more ambitious, turn into the best enchilada sauce.)See the video.This salsa roja is delicious and disappears quickly, but that's not a problem since most of its flavor comes from three things I usually have in the kitchen: the chipotles in adobo, tomato pasteand fire-roasted tomatoes, which are – believe it or not – cooked on an open flame before being canned to give them that charred edge. (If you do not have fire-roasted tomatoes, do not try, I repeat: do not do it, to flame, ordinary crushed tomatoes will do the trick, and you could add a pinch of smoked paprika to compensate.)It is also useful for the salsa to take every fifteen minutes to make. You simply sauté onions and garlic, add the tomato paste and chipotles in adobo, cook them so that they are darker, thicker and richer in flavor, then add them. canned tomatoes and simmer to concentrate their power. All that's left to do is transfer everything to a blender or food processor and blitz it to a smooth consistency, then incorporate apple cider vinegar (quick!) And molasses (sweet!). If you do not have "sturdy flavor" (dark) molasses, "hope is not lost: I imagine that maple syrup, honey or brown sugar would be serious contenders (a I used tamarind paste, and it was delicious).

You can serve the salsa roja with braised breast with beerbut I am more likely to eat it with scrambled eggs.

More

Now you and all my friends, family members, and all those who stumble for dinner-you may be wondering how convenient it is to spend time preparing a sauce instead of preparing dinner. "Sarah," you think, "what is the point of a refrigerator full of condiments, none of which is a real meal?" Well, I would say that smoke salsa makes all the boring things I'm going to eat for dinner 100 times more exciting. Stir salsa roja into scrambled eggs; use it as a dip for roasted sweet potatoes; spread it in a tortilla and cover with fried shrimps and the lawyer in installments; mix with yogurt, then mix with roasted potatoes; stir in sauteed chickpeas or braised white beans; or use it to coat tortilla chips and make you chilaquiles garnished with eggs. With a pot of salsa roja, not even my saddest dinner is irreparably doomed to failure. salsa Roja receipts ("salsa roja", after all, simply means red sauce), with various fresh and dried and canned ingredients. But this is the one that comes with what I have already dragged: no floury tomatoes and dead winter. And then, one day I saw an embroidered pillow that said: When you find a salsa (or, I guess, a person) that you like, you do not let it go.

Salsa, fiesta:

Smoked Salsa Roja

Claire Saffitz