Sunday, May 23, 2010

Verde Salsa 'Green Sauce'- Tomatillo or Not

This is for a friend in Dallas, Cheryl with whom I have been in debate the past year over the perfect verde sauce. On a quest for a recipe she can make and live with, I explore several versions. Cheryl does not like tomatillo's, which can be a problem. There is traditionally a variance, but rarely do they come 'without' tomatillo's. Some are just better at hiding the flavor with more garlic (often roasted), heavy cilantro, and more chili additions as well as watered down. The 'verde', green in Spanish, comes from the tomatillo and green chilies. Either can dominate the flavor, depending on preparation.

I have made countless versions and recently found a brand at a local deli with little chili or tomatillo presence (flavor) she may like. I prefer making the second version, and if I have little time, I keep canned tomatillo's on hand, as well as canned chilies. Canned foods are high in salt, but time is of the essence and I do not always keep fresh tomatillo on hand. I also rarely salt when I cook due to HB issues. Homemade is much healthier and if prepared in larger quantities it can be frozen without addition of water (add after thawing).

I love tomatillo's and crush whole ones right into my bowl- I cannot get enough of this sauce.

Chili Verde
* 1 pound tomatillo's
* 5 garlic cloves, not peeled
* 4 jalapenos, seeds and ribs removed, chopped
* 1 bunch cilantro leaves, cleaned and chopped


Tomatillo Salsa Verde
* 1 1/2 lb tomatillo;s
* 1/2 cup chopped white onion
* 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
* 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
* 1/4 teaspoon sugar
* 2 Jalapeño peppers OR 2 Serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped
* Salt to taste

Remove papery husks from tomatillo's and rinse well (there is a sticky feel to them otherwise).

You have three choices in preparing the tomatillo's. Depending on the final flavor I roast or boil them.

-Roasting method Cut in half and place cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place under a broiler for about 5-7 minutes to lightly blacken the skin.


-Boiling method Place tomatillo's in a saucepan, cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove tomatillo's with a slotted spoon. They will have a soft appearance as in photo above.


-Place tomatillo's in a fine mesh or cheese cloth and press through (helps remove much of the seeds which can give sauces a grainy mouth feel). After cooking the whole tomatillo my be eaten. Then along with any other chosen ingredients place all into  in a food processor (or blender) and pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped and mixed. Season to taste with salt. Refrigerate for salsa or place over meat, poultry, or pork for slow cooking for that added twist.

Green Chili Sauce (no tomatillo), usually used to make variances of Meat Chili, or Carnitas

* 3 green chilies of your choice, fresh or canned- Jalapeño, Pablano, or Anaheim will do
   Seed and ribs removed- roast them over an open flame and place into a container to remove skin/ends
* 1/2  cup water
* 2 Garlic clove, peeled
* Salt to taste
* 1/2 cup chopped white onion
* 1/4 cup minced cilantro

 Pulse together in chopper or food processor. Use as cooking sauce or chill for salsa.

You can add any of these to heavy cream or sour cream for a Verde Cream Sauce over tacos or enchiladas. Add to diced tomato sauce for a wonderful twist on past with meat as I have done above. I have also added it to the meatballs like my Verde Pesto recipe as I have below (Verde Pesto Recipe). Whether you like the herb raw flavor of uncooked or a milder flavor from roasted or boiled tomatillo's just play with ingredients until you get the result you want.

I did not write the bible on verde sauce, so if you have your own, could you share it, or leave a link for her. Doggybloggy once taught us how to revive dried chilies by microwaving them, and that WOWed me. There are some good recipes out there to try- Rick Bayless shares a few in his cookbooks from the Oaxaca, Mexico, and his has tomatillo present in the recipes.

Cheryl, I hope this helps you in your quest to make your own verde sauce; otherwise I have found locations below, in Texas of this brand, Salsa Xochitl, Asada (roasted) Verde- claiming an original Aztec recipe, no strong tomatillo presence or flavor, only a mild mild chili bite- Mild, Medium, or Hot Available.

Central Market/Kroger/Whole Foods/World Market/HEB/Market Street/Sprouts/Tom Thumb

I roasted Purple Tomatillo's in Oregon (indigenous to the area) a few years ago, and made a cilantro cream sauce with shrimp over Salmon.

 Here is a 'Beer Battered Fried Tomatillo' and chili aoili dish I also made a while back.

Tomatillo's- a relative of the tomato and member of the nightshade (Solanaceae) family, are used in cuisine and cultivated in Mexico and Guatemala, where they are called a Mexican green tomato. They are in the tomato family, but not really the green tomatoes many are familiar with- also known as the husk (tomato)fruit, jamberry, husk cherry, or ground cherry. There is a German variety.