Friday, November 4, 2011

Save your Palate! Go Green!

Now you know they're good for you, but what do you do with tomatillos? A lot! These tangy little beauties are primarily used to make salsa and sauces in three ways:
  1. Briefly boiled for a bright, green salsa and sauce, perfect for chips, chicken, fish, tacos, tostadas, and enchiladas;
  2. Roasted for a rich, slightly browned salsa and sauce, perfect for beef, pork, and lamb;
  3. They are also great for braising things, e.g., pork and even brisket!
When I was in California, recently, I was astonished to see some of my extended family devouring a tomatillo salsa, and not having a clue what it was or how to make it. Well, let's make a basic simmered tomatillo salsa, a.k.a, salsa verde!

Simmered Tomatillo Salsa (Salsa Verde Cocida)

Makes 2 cups. Salsa will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week. If frozen, whiz it up in a blender or processor to restore it's smooth texture.


1 pound green tomatillos
2 garlic cloves, peeled
3 serrano chiles, or more to taste
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 cup white onion, roughly chopped
1-1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt, or to taste
1-1/2 tablespoons canola oil


Remove the husks (usually a little sticky) and pull off the stems from the tomatillos. Wash them.

Bring the tomatillos, garlic, and serranos to a boil in a medium pot of salted water.

Lower the heat and simmer about 10 minutes, until the tomatillos have softened slightly and lost their brightness everywhere except on the indented stem, like this:

Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, and drain everything in a colander, allow to cool slightly. Cut the stems off the serranos and place everything, along with the 1/2 cup cooking liquid, in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Add the onion and 1 teaspoon salt, pulse a few times. (You don't want to completely lose the onion texture.)

Heat the oil in the pot you used for boiling over medium, medium-high heat. When hot enough to make a drop of the puree sizzle, stand back, and pour it all in at once. Bring to a simmer and stir constantly for about 6-7 minutes, until it thickens and deepens color. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Stir in the cilantro, taste to see if it needs salt, usually does, about 1/2 teaspoon or so. Now, it's ready to serve!

Adapted from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen (one of my favorite cookbooks, EVER!)

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