Green Sauce

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Just as I have run across dozens of mole recipes (and heard of hundreds more) I seemed to stumbled into a whole world of green salsas, all made from tomatillos or sometimes in the market called tomates. The sauces are all intended to be table sauces, although a few cooks have hinted at cooked versions that would accompany pollo or pesce. There is a basic ingredient list but the addons begin to reach impressive numbers, from with onion to without onion to smoked pasilla de Oaxaca chiles and gusanitos de maguay (grubs) to lots of cilantro to very little cilantro and even a little avocado. When I am through sampling a few months from now, I will let you know which is my actual favorites.

Salse Verde

Salsa Verde (Cruda)

Makes about 2 cups (500ml)

1 pound tomatillos, about 22 medium, husked
4 chiles serranos roughly chopped
1 large garlic clove chopped
1 cup loosely packed roughly chopped cilantro
Salt to taste.

Put the tomatillos into a small pan. barely covered with water, bring to a simmer, and simmer until soft but not falling apart – they will become a washed-out green color – about ten minutes. Drain and reserve a little of the cooking liquid. Put 1/2 cup of the cooking water into a blender with the chiles, cilantro, and garlic and blend until smooth. Gradually add the cooked tomatillos and blend briefly after each addition. the sauce should have a slightly rough-tectured appearance. Add salt. the saude will thicken as it stands and may need to be diluted with a little more water

From My Mexico by Diana Kennedy

Salsa De Tomate Verde

Makes about 2 cups (500ml)

1 pound tomatillos, husked
3 chiles serranos, seeded, deveined, and chopped
1 small onion chopped
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon minced cilantro
A pinch of sugar
Salt to taste.

Cook the fresh tomatillos in a small amount of boiling salted water until tender, about ten minutes: drain. Puree the tomatillos, chilies, onions and garlic in a blender or food mill. Add the cilantro and sugar and season to taste with salt.

From Flavors of Mexico by Angeles de la Rosa and C. Gandia de Fernandez

Salsa de Tomatillo

2 pounds fresh tomatillos
3 dried pasilla de Oaxaca chiles or 2 ancho chiles and 2 chipotle chiles
4 garlic cloves, peeled
12 ‘gusanitos de maguay’, crumbled (optional) *
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1) Remove the outer papery husks from the tomitillos. Drop the tomitillos into a large pot of boiling salted water and cook for 4 minutes. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and transfer to a blender container.

2) Clean and dry the chiles. Remove the stems. Split them and remove all the seeds. Spread the chiles out flat and toast until they darken and release aromas. At the same time toast the garlic. Transfer the chilies and garlic to the blender with the tomatillos.

3) Crush the gusanotos de maguey and add to the blender ingredients. Puree until almost smooth, keeping a bit of texture. Pour into a serving bowl and top with cilantro. Serve at room temperature.

*Gusano de maguey – Aegiale hesperiaris grubs found in maguey plants are dried and used as flavoring. Tiny gusanitos are flavored in Oaxaca, where they are coated with salted chile powder and strunf to dry in market cheese stalls.

From “A Cook’s Tour of Mexico” by Nancy Zaslavsky