Salsas Verde y Roja
Some good friends are coming to visit next weekend and I want to make something special for them. One of my friends is a native Texan, currently living in Boston. Now, I know that good Mexican restaurants can be found all over the country nowadays but you can’t always find good homemade Mexican food.
I am nearing the zenith of peak season at my work and I have only had one day off this week. I thought it would be wise to get some of the prep work out of the way so that I don’t have to slave away in the kitchen while my friends are here. I want the dinner to come together quickly so that I can spend time visiting with my friends, rather than bouncing around in the kitchen like a madman.
I’m preparing enchiladas – – some red, some green. I’m making the sauces today and I’ll keep them in the refrigerator until I need them. I almost bought canned enchilada sauce today, which would be perfectly fine, but a 20 ounce can of the stuff was selling for over $3.00, and I just couldn’t bring myself to pay that much for salsa, when I can make it for less than half the cost. Plus, what kind of food blog would this be if I just showed pictures of me opening cans of stuff and dumping them in a pot?
Red Enchilada Sauce (Salsa Roja)
12 guajillo chiles
4 or 5 ancho chiles
2 to 5 chiles de arbol (these are spicy!)
1 Tbs olive oil
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 medium sized yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a heavy pot.
Cut the stems off the chili pods and remove the seeds and loose pieces of fibrous ribs from the interior. Add the chiles to the boiling water, turn the heat off and cover the pot with a lid. Allow the chiles to steam for at least twenty minutes.
In a large skillet, add olive oil and sauté the garlic and onion for a few minutes. Add the salt, cumin and oregano and stir. Turn the heat off and let it rest for a few minutes.
Strain the chiles and reserve the water. Remove the chiles de arbol and set aside.
Add the softened chiles to a blender. Add the sautéed garlic, onion, salt, cumin and oregano. Add about 2 cups of the chili water to the blender. Pulse a few times and then puree the mixture. Taste the sauce. If you want more heat, add more chiles de arbol. Strain the mixture and keep the pulp.
Add the sauce to the large skillet and add the strained pulp back to the blender. Add the remaining two cups of chili water and puree again. Strain again and add the liquid to the skillet. Discard the pulp. Simmer the sauce for about 10 minutes on low heat. Allow the sauce to cool before transferring to a storage container. The sauce will stay fresh for about a week in the refrigerator. This should make 4 cups of sauce.
Green enchilada sauce (Salsa verde)
2 or 4 fresh serrano chiles
½ small yellow onion
¼ cup cilantro, leaves and stems
3 garlic cloves, roasted
1 tsp salt
1 to 2 tsp sugar
Peel the husks away from the tomatillos and remove the stems from the serranos.
Slice the tomatillos in half, along their equator. Slice the serranos, lengthwise.
Lay the tomatillos on a backing sheet. Add the cut serranos and garlic cloves to the baking sheet and place in a 400° oven for about 15 minutes, or until the tomatillos begin to char. Remove the chiles, tomatillos and garlic from the oven.
Place the roasted tomatillos and garlic in a blender. Add the salt. Add one or two serranos to the blender…reserve the remaining serranos, for now.
Chop the onion into ¼” pieces. Chop the cilantro, including the stems. Cilantro entero!.
Add the onion and cilantro to the blender.
Puree the mixture in the blender and then taste (after the blender has been turned off, thank you.) It will probably have a bitter taste. Add a little sugar and blend again. Taste and add a little more sugar. Two teaspoons of sugar should be enough to tame the sauce. If you want a little more heat, add some more serrano. Blend again and taste. The sauce should have some kick but I recommend keeping it fairly mild.
That’s it! The salsa verde is ready. This should make about one pint of sauce. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to one week.