Somehow the grocery store near me always has beautiful tomatillos which surprises me because much of the produce at the same store elemental in making a traditional salsa is not very fresh. The jalapeños are shriveled and have black stems, the serranos, the same and the cilantro is hit and miss. However, I can always find dried chiles and it is with these that I have fashioned my tomatillo guajillo salsa. Roasting the tomatillos under the broiler brings out the sweet tart flavor of the fruit while toasting the dried chiles deepens the intensity of the chile flavor resulting in wonderful melding of flavors.
Also called Mexican green tomatoes or husk tomatoes, tomatillos belong to the same nightshade family as its cousin, the red tomato. The subtle flavors of apple, lemon and herbs make the tomatillos perfect for salsas. The green fruit is enclosed in a papery husk which needs to be taken off and the tomatillo rinsed before using. Tomatillos can be used either raw or cooked. Always choose unblemished tomatillos that fill the husk. Store loosely wrapped in the refrigerator.
Tomatillo Guajillo Salsa
2 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed, split and seeded
1 pound tomatillos, husked, rinsed and patted dry
1/2 small red onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
salt to taste
Preheat the broiler, then preheat a small cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Place the chiles in the skillet, pressing down on them with a heat-proof spatula for about 20 seconds to lightly toast them. Turn over and toast the other side an additional 20 seconds. Remove the chiles from the skillet and place in a bowl. Pour hot water over the chiles, cover with a plate and soak for about 30 minutes or until completely hydrated.
While the chiles are soaking, place the tomatillos on a foil-lined baking pan and place until broiler. Broil about 5 minutes, or until softened with some blackened spots. Turn and broil an additional 4 or 5 minutes. Remove from oven and place in the food processor. Set aside to cool. Reduce oven heat to 425 degrees F.
Remove the chiles from the soaking liquid. Discard the liquid and roughly chop the chiles. Add to the food processor bowl.
Place the sliced onions and smashed garlic on a foil-lined baking pan. Place in the oven and roast 5 minutes. Stir around to redistribute for even cooking. Roast an additional 5 minutes, or until onions and garlic are lightly browned and softened some. Add to food processor.
Blend the tomatillos, chiles, onions and garlic until fully combined and thick. Remove to a bowl and add chopped cilantro. Season to taste with salt. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 5 days. Makes about 1-1/2 cups.
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