I like all kinds of food, but I turn to Mexican cuisine more often than not. Mexican cuisine can be simple or complex. As a home cook, I often head down the simple path…tacos, enchiladas, fajitas… But, there are times that I want to go “all out” and make something special.
Salsa verde is one of those special things that I can’t resist. It is an essential component in my Mexican Flag Chimichangas, which I will share with you soon.
The salsa verde that I am making is comprised mainly of tomatillos and serrano chiles. There are many types of Mexican green salsas but this particular one is common to many dishes. The thing that I find funny about making salsa verde is that it can be prepared simply and quickly, or it can be a time consuming project. I have chosen the time consuming variation, because I am poco loco, which is to say, a little bit crazy.
First, let’s get something straight. Tomatillos are not green tomatoes. Although the tomatillo is in the same family as tomatoes, they are not the same thing. Tomatillos can be found in grocery stores all over the U.S., due to an ever-growing population of Latinos. And to that, I say gracias! You can buy salsa verde in a jar, but homemade salsa verde is mas sabroso (tastier.)
Smoking tomatillos on the grill makes it even better! So, lets grill some tomatillos.
This recipe will yield about one quart of salsa.
5 serrano chiles
1 Tbs coarse salt
1 Tbs olive oil
3 garlic cloves
1 small onion
¼ cup chopped cilantro
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Peel the stems and husks off of the tomatillos and pull the stems off of the serranos. Slice the tomatillos in half (along the equator, if you know what I mean). Toss the tomatillos, serranos and garlic cloves in a bowl with the coarse salt and olive oil. Set aside.
Directions for grilling:
Wrap the grate with heavy duty aluminum foil, covering about ¾ of the grill. Cut slits in the foil to facilitate air flow. You can skip this if you feel lucky but, I know from past experience that little things, like peppers and garlic, can find a way to slip through grating before you know it!
Heat charcoal briquettes and place them in the grill. Lay a piece of piece of wood on top of the coals. I used mesquite wood but hickory or oak is fine. It’s all about your flavor preference.
Place the foil-covered grate on the grill and then place the tomatillos, serranos and garlic on the grate. Close the lid of the grill and wait several minutes. Open the grill and inspect the everything. Once the bottoms have blackened, pull them off.
Drop the smoked tomatillos, chiles, garlic, the teaspoon of salt and the tablespoon of sugar in a blender. Add the diced onion, cilantro and a splash of water. Purée for several seconds. That’s it. You have made salsa verde! Store in a mason jar and allow to cool before refrigerating. The salsa will last about a week. If you want to extend the life of your salsa add about 2 Tbs vinegar.