In light of life, this has been a long time coming. So we’ll wrap this up in a Christmas/New Years/1 year anniversary extravaganza of a recipe. Lotta pressure for this little tomatillo recipe but maybe I’ll throw in a double posting to make it all better. We’ll see. In light of my lack of time though, it seems doubtful. To think my last posting was 2 months ago. Where has the time gone.
More importantly, it’s been over a year since I’ve started this slowly dying blog (all my fault) with the ambition that I’d be able to keep it up for more than a few months. I guess in a way I’ve succeeded in that expectation since I am still writing up blog posts every once in a while. But happy anniversary to me I guess. And as a super special, super secret recipe I’ve decided to share my tomatillo sauce recipe, but a no blend version because when I made this I didn’t have a blender or a food processor.
This has come after years of tweaking a recipe from a cookbook that we have. I can’t even remember how many times I’ve made it, but it was popular enough that my roommate’s mother back in Albany actually grew tomatillos for us to make this sauce. So I guess it turned out pretty well.
First we’ll start out with a bit of lore on the tomatillo because why not. The tomatillo, sometimes called a Mexican husk tomato, is actually not a tomato at all. It’s a member of the gooseberry family and is sometimes referred to as a green tomato but it is not the same as the southern version of a green tomato, which is just an unripe tomato that is green. Tomatillos come in these weird little husk packages that can be peeled away pretty easily depending on how ripe they are.
Since these little guys are used primarily in central and south american cuisine, they’re pretty easy to find in a grocery store but they only look really good in the summer when they’re actually in season. Otherwise there’s usually a large percentage of tomatillos I pick out that are kind of squishy or not completely green like the ones below that have a sort of yellowish hue. There’s nothing wrong with that though. They’re still good to eat and I don’t complain if they turn into delicious tomatillo sauce.
After dehusking tomatillos they need to be washed since their skin can sometimes have this weird sticky residue. Nothing to be concerned or grossed out by, but it makes them much harder to handle. After that I typically just cut them into quarters to kind of speed up the cooking process and so that I can look at their weird, not tomato-like insides.
Since this is a no-blend sauce, there’s going to be a lot of mincing and grating involved, but the result is still the same. In addition to tomatillos, I grate up an onion, mince some garlic, and finely dice some jalapeno. In addition to diced jalapeno, I also have some that I just cut in half a deseeded. Why? I like to cook these down in the sauce to give it more flavor but I don’t want to have all the jalapenos in there at the end or else there might be too much heat (something that I’m never concerned about but some people can’t handle spicy food like I can).
Once I got those all prepped, I heat up some olive oil in a pot and stick it all in there to get them sort of sauteing while I gather all the liquid ingredients.
For the liquid ingredients I throw in some chicken (or vegetable stock), a little bit of vinegar, and some lime juice. You don’t need much in the way of liquid or else you might lose the beautiful green color of the sauce and it’ll be too runny anyway. In addition to chicken broth, I also added in a couple of chicken bouillon cubes. Bouillon cubes are literally just dehydrated, concentrate cubes of stock so a little goes a long way in terms of adding more chicken stock flavor. Finally, I finish everything off with a healthy helping of salt, pepper, and cumin and let this boil down for about half an hour until everything is nice and saucy.
The tomatillos will cook down wonderously so there’s really not much blending that’s actually required. I pull out the halves of jalapenos I didn’t dice since you wouldn’t want that ending up on someone’s plate. You can throw away (or compost) the jalapeno halves or save them for some tacos later (I prefer the latter option).
The thing here is that a lot of the chunkiness comes from the onions, garlic, jalapenos, and the tomatillo skin that doesn’t cook down as well. To combat that last one (since I don’t mind chunks of the other stuff) I just hammer it a little bit with a whisk as I also finish the sauce off with a healthy dose of cilantro.
And that’s all it really takes to make this tomatillo sauce, once the cilantro’s in the sauce it’s done, no roux needed, nothing. And all this without a blender. If you do have a blender though, or an emersion blender, then just give this a little blend to make it smoother. But even then it’s not much more work, just one more dish to clean.
Tomatillo sauce is so versatile too. I put it on flautas, enchiladas, chile relleno, in tacos, or just use it as a cold salsa. It tastes just a good cold as it does hot and lasts quite a while if you just throw it in a jar and into the refrigerator (although, don’t literally throw it).
No-Blend Tomatillo Salsa
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30-45 minutes
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 lb tomatillos, quartered
- 6 jalapenos, 2 finely diced and 4 halved and deseeded
- 1 white onion, grated
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 4 chicken bouillon cubes
- 1 tbs vinegar (any kind will work in a pinch)
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp cumin
- ½ bunch of cilantro, finely or coarsely chopped depending on preference
- Heat olive oil in a large pot
- Add tomatillos, jalapenos, onion, and garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes
- Add chicken stock, bouillon cubes, vinegar, and lime juice and bring to a boil
- Season with salt, pepper, and cumin
- Reduce heat, and simmer covered for 30-45 minutes until the tomatillos are soft and easily break apart
- Pull jalapeno halves out of pot and add cilantro, whisking to break up any large chunks of tomatillo skin