Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tasty Tomatillo Sauce

Every year I plant tomatillos.  Some years they are just OK, most years they are not OK at all.  I can nurse along just about anything in the garden.  Not tomatillos.  My friends and neighbors tell me theirs grow like weeds.  Not mine.
Until this year!
I fertilized, weeded, and fertilized some more.  I finally had success. 

My girls can make authentic Mexican food; our whole family loves Mexican food; the "real kind".  (The "kind" that we waited in line for, several hours before service, in front of Rick Bayless' Frontera Grill in Chicago hours before it opened so that we wouldn't have to wait in an even longer line with everyone else... twice on the same family vacation).  We got a really good table.  That's what being first in line does for you. 

We live in the southwestern area of the U.S. so we always have had great Mexican restaurants here.  And we love green tomatillo sauce.  I've tried several recipes (including Rick Bayless') but this is my original recipe; and it was my best one ever.  Really!!!  It must be those soft, sweet, ripe, garden tomatillos I used this time.  I usually buy them and I'm convinced that they pick them green like super market tomatoes (no flavor and rock hard).  Next spring, I will put more effort into my tomatillo plant, in fact I think I'll plant two!

This recipe is not exact.  I wish it could be but it depends on the flavor and sweetness of your fruit and the heat of your peppers.  Even the same chili variety can vary in "hotness", so be careful.  If you are sensitive to them, put some gloves or a plastic sandwich baggie over your hands as you handle them.  And whatever you do, don't rub your eyes after handling the peppers.
  1. Husk and wash your tomatillos well.  They have a sticky, yet surprisingly waxy, feel to their skin.  You won't get the "sticky" all off.  Put them on a baking sheet with sides.  I filled my half sheet pan (15" x 20") almost full. 
  2. Add some Jalapeno or Serrano peppers that you have stemmed.  I used 6 Serrano's, because that's what I had in my garden. 
  3. Put the pan about 4 inches away from the broiler element and broil for about 5 minutes.  Be sure to turn on a fan.  Turn them and broil 5 minutes more or until they are soft, blistered and browned (they will be burned in spots). This caramelizes the natural sugars and gives them a smoky flavor. Remove them from the oven and cool slightly. 
  4. Put the tomatillos, the pan juices, and the peppers (I removed some of the seeds and ribs from my Serrano's) into a blender.  Be judicious with the amount of peppers that you initially add.  You may want to add half and then add more later if you want more heat.  They vary on the Scoville scale from pepper to pepper, even within the same variety.  Pulse them a few times to blend. 
  5. Mince about 3/4 cup  of a white or yellow onion, put it in a strainer and rinse with water and drain. This will take some of the acid and bitterness from the onion.  Add about 2/3 of the minced onion to the blender (reserving the rest to add at the end for texture).  
  6. Coarsely chop a large handful of cilantro; again, put as much as you like in the blender, reserving some minced cilantro for finishing at the end.  I find that people either love cilantro or hate it.  I love it, but I've heard some people say it tastes like soap.  Pulse once or twice to blend the onions and cilantro.   If your sauce is not the right consistency you might thin it with some water.....
  7. OR do as I do and use a bit of chicken broth.  My tomatillos were very juicy and I didn't need to thin my sauce but I wanted the depth that chicken broth brings to the party so I added 2 teaspoons of chicken base. You could add some bouillon granules but be careful; they are mostly salt. 
  8. Adjust the seasonings to taste by adding salt and freshly ground pepper at the end.  I throw in a little coarsely chopped cilantro for color and add the remaining minced onions at the end for texture. 
*Some tomatillo salsa recipes call for garlic (which I generally love) but not in this salsa.  I think it muddies the bright citrus flavor.

That's it.  The best tasting tomatillo sauce you've ever eaten.  I made A LOT.  Some will be frozen for later (chicken enchiladas), some went into the fridge for now, and some was used for dinner.

Bonnie's "Sort Of Huevos Rancheros (Sort Of)"

I'm not sure what to call this dish.  It consists of what I had on hand. 
On an oven-proof plate, lay down two freshly warmed corn tortillas, spread some mashed black beans on top, and add a soft poached egg (or you can fry it sunny side up, but the yolk should be soft so that it runs over the beans and tortillas when broken).  You won't believe how much richness the egg adds to the dish.  Don't leave it off.  Top the whole thing with some more tomatillo sauce, and some white melting cheese (I used Monterrey Jack because that's what I had in my fridge, but Mexican cheese would be terrific).  Slip the whole plate under the broiler for a few minutes and serve with more tomatillo salsa, guacamole, some chopped fresh orange heirloom tomatoes and a dollop of sour cream.

Heaven on a plate!  This would be great for breakfast or brunch.  We couldn't wait that long, so we ate it for dinner.

This is linked to the Hearth 'n Soul blog hop.  Check out everyone's offerings this week.


  1. Your sauce looks wonderful Bonnie. I am jealous of your beautiful tomatillos. And the recipes make me hungry.

  2. Bonnie, I LOVE huevos rancheros. Your dish looks delish. Had some just last week at a restaurant. YUMMY!

  3. Bonnie -- your tomatillo salsa looks incredibly good. Could you please send some tomatillos? Last time, this summer, I bought some in the grocery store -- they were horrible. I just bought some tomatillo salsa, a new line, and it was surprisingly good -- guess that will have to do. I too am a cilantro lover. There is some kind of scientific reason, I read the results of a study, why some people don't like cilantro. Course I can't remember why. Joni

  4. Wow, your hard work brought great dividends! I love huevos rancheros, and so does my dad. He orders it EVERY time we go to a Mexican restaurant:) Your version looks DELICIOUS!

  5. Since there are no classes tomorrow, I am going to try this one out! Thanks a lot for the share!

  6. We love tomatillo sauce too. I haven't tried growing them, but have bought some very good ones at the Hispanic market in W. Jordan. Looks like an ooey, gooey, delicious meal!

  7. Your "sort of" huevos rancheros look delicious, Bonnie! I have to admit, I'm not even exactly sure what a tomatillo is. They look like green tomatoes. They probably have them here in Calif. since Mexican food is big here -- I will have to look. It sounds like they are a big hit at your house. This year we grew some hot peppers (along with our bell peppers) and they just about burned our lips off. Most of them are just coming ripe now and I'm afraid to even touch them ;) Would I still be a good candidate to eat tomatillos?

  8. Man, that looks so good! I wish I had some of that tomatillo sauce. Can you send me a jar? I'd like to make some chile verde. :-)

  9. Oh Bonnie darling, so glad to see you sharing on the hearth and soul hop this week. I love the tomatillo so very much. When I was visiting mexico once, I came across one growing wild! It was so much like a regular tomato plant, but for the tiny little paper lantern like flowers. I have been in love ever since. Your huervos rancheros look so good I almost bit into my screen and so, I will be sharing this on my hearth and soul hop highlights on my thoughts on friday at a moderate life. And being hungry was not the reason, I already ate it simply looks THAT good! :)alex@amoderatelife

  10. Bonnie, What a great post. Congratulations on your harvest of tomatillo's they look great. Huevos Rancheros is one of my husband's favorites. We would love it with your sauce.
    Thank you for sharing.

  11. Your sauce looks so delicious! Tomatillos are something I have not cooked before, I will have to give your recipe a try. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Isn't that funny how someone right next door have great lucky growing the same plant that you fail with? What kind of fertilizer did you use? I added comfrey into my fertilizer this year and had great success. I share your passion for tomatillo salsa, good stuff. Thanks for linking to the Hearth and Soul hop.

  13. Oh, Bonnie this looks so good! I have made tomatillo sauce, but mine would pale in comparison. Thanks so much for putting it up here and sharing all the great tips and ways to use it. I will be making some of this and finding room in my freezer for a little stash.

  14. This really looks good. I am not sure that one can get hold of tomatillos in my part of the world but I will have to find out.

  15. Oh this sounds so yummy! I love tomatillo sauce. Plus I haven't eaten breakfast today and your "almost" huevos rancheros is calling my hame!!
    Thanks for sharing with us at the hearth and soul hop!

  16. This looks excellent - similar to something my mother-in-law made. We ended up using it to bake eggs in bowls of the salsa with some cheese and sour cream.

  17. Looks so good! I love tomatillos!!!!!!

  18. Oh yeah, I could totally go for some huevos rancheros right now!! Your version looks delicious. So does our salsa...although I MUST put garlic in mine, or it doesn't taste like salsa verde to me (isn't that funny...personal preference...) ;) Thank you for sharing this with the hearth and soul hop this week!