Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fresh Green Tomatillo Sauce

I finally cleaned out my gardens last week. My final harvest yielded a good amount of eggplant, some jalapenos, poblanos, and mini sweet bell peppers, a couple tomatoes, a surprise 2+ pound zucchini the size of my forearm, and even a few last tomatillos from plants that looked like they were in their death throes, yet were flowering at the same time. Apparently it's not just my mutant plants hanging on for dear life, as I saw a couple vendors still selling a few tomatillos, but I thought I should share a few last tomatillo recipes before all vestiges of this favorite fruit disappear.

If you know me or Mexican cooking, it should be no surprise that I went straight to Rick Bayless for recipes. I can't say enough about how much I love his cookbooks and recipes, so I expect nothing less than  perfection when I try his recipes. And you know what? I'm never disappointed. I've made seemingly countless tomatillo sauces at this point, mostly from his recipes, all with their own unique character. As the name would suggest, this sauce is fresh and vibrant, celebrating all the tart and citrusy notes of the tomatillo. Hot chiles, cilantro, and onion are familiar companions, this classic combination just as delicious with barely cooked tomatillos as deeply roasted ones.

There's no end to the ways this sauce can be used. A few suggestions include a dip for chips, topping for tacos, tostados, and eggs, or sauce for smothered burrito pictured above, though that is certain not an exhaustive list. If you like tomatillos, you're almost guaranteed to love this sauce, relishing in it's spicy, tart flavor brightens up any dish it is added to.

Fresh Green Tomatillo Sauce
makes about 1 ½ cups

8 ounces (5 or 6 medium) fresh tomatillos, husked and washed
OR one 13-ounce can tomatillos, drained
Fresh hot green chiles to taste (roughly 2 chiles serranos or 1 chile jalapeno), stemmed
5 or 6 sprigs fresh coriander (cilantro), roughly chopped
½ small onion, chopped
Salt, about ½ teaspoon

1. The tomatillos: Boil fresh tomatillos in salted water to cover until barely tender, 8 to 10 minutes; drain. Canned tomatillos only need to be drained.

2. The puree: Place the tomatillos in a blender or food processor. If you want a milder sauce, seed the chile(s), then chop into small bits and add to the tomatillos along with the coriander and chopped onion; if using a blender, stir well. Blend or process to a coarse puree.

Finishing the sauce: Scrape into a sauce dish, thin to medium-thick consistency with about ¼ cup water, then season with salt. Let stand for about ½ hour before serving, for the flavors to blend.

Traditional Variations

Chunky Tomatillo Sauce: Prepare the sauce as described, finely chopping the chile, onion and coriander, then adding them to the blended tomatillos. If the chopped onion is rinsed, the sauce will sour less quickly.

All-Raw Tomatillo Relish: Prepare the sauce with chopped raw tomatillos, adding ¼ cup water before blending. Taste for salt and stir in additional water, if needed.

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