3 Easy Steps to a Tangy Chile Verde Sauce
Tomatillos were one of those things that I never saw as a child. Not until I worked for a Spanish chef that loved all things Latin did I learn the versatility of these weird green, sticky, tomato-like fruits. He showed me that husking, washing, and roasting them was all part of the process to creating a delicious chile verde. Although foreign still to many people, tomatillos are becoming more widely recognizable and rightly so—delicious in sauce, they are also a versatile ingredient and great in salads.
Though tangy and sometimes slightly sour, a little salt can help to soften them and some acids from lemon or limes will tame them down for salads. These relatives of the tomato are an excellent ingredient for end of summer cooking. Especially when roasted to bring out their sugars.
Traditionally, tomatillos were husked, washed, roasted, peeled (sometimes, but not always), mashed in a matate (a large stone mortar) and then simmered in a shallow pan over an open fire. Though this process seems involved, a long slow simmer over a wood fire imparted a smokey flavor and allowed the tomatillos time to meld with other flavors; onion, garlic, cilantro, peppers and spices. Today’s tomatillos are less bitter and can be easily prepared into a delicious sauce in a few simple steps.
Either eaten alone with homemade chips, poured over eggs, or simmered slowly with roasted pork or chicken, chile verde is a worthwhile recipe to have in your culinary repertoire.
- 1 1/2 lbs fresh tomatillos, husked, washed and halved
- 1 large white onion, quartered
- 3 green chilis, Anaheim or Poblanos, seeded and halved
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
- 1/4 tsp Mexican oregano
- 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
- 1/4 tsp sugar
- Preheat oven to 450?F. Place tomatillos in a baking pan with onion, chilis, and garlic. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour, or until onion is beginning to brown and chilis are soft (alternately you can dry sear the chilis, as in the picture, on a caste iron skillet over medium-low heat). Let cool. Remove skin from chilies under cold water.
- Process tomatillos, onions, chilies and garlic with salt, pepper, oregano, sugar and broth until smooth. If you are serving with meats—like pork shoulder or chicken thighs—cut meat into bite size pieces, sear in oil until well browned, then add sauce and simmer covered for 1 1/2 hours, or until tender.
- Otherwise, return sauce to a hot, lightly oiled pan and fry for 5- 10 minutes over medium heat. Season to taste, garnish with cilantro and serve over rice and beans, over eggs or with homemade chips.