"The only real stumbling block is the fear of failure. In cooking, you have got to have a what-the-hell attitude." ~ Julia Child

I Made a Sauce! (Green Chili Sauce from Scratch!)

by Julie on November 8, 2011

in Minor Miracles, Dinner

Los tomatillos

Los tomatillos

I made a sauce!

Yeah, you laugh. But this is something of a big deal for me, in terms of my, ah, culinary development.

Of the bechamel and the beurre blanc I know nothing, apart from their names, and those only because I’ve been reading my Julia Childs lo these past few years.

A sauce, especially one that doesn’t involve dissolving the contents of a little supermarket packet into water, suggests a certain confidence with cooking that I’ve never had. I’ve avoided them. I wouldn’t know what to do with a sauce in any case. Didn’t I ever blog about my last Thanksgiving gravy attempt?

But then this green chili sauce Marisa’s mom made the other night was so good — I actually exclaimed outloud when I tried it — and they swore it was so easy, so easy even I could do it (probably), that what could I do but try it and see. It was like a double dog dare.

And so, off to the Buy Low I drove, to procure the tomatillos.

Buy your tomatillos. For those of you who don’t live in California or the Southwest, where there are significant hispanic populations, a tomatillo looks like a green tomato but is thicker, fleshier. That’s all I know.

Here’s the recipe:

1-1 1/2 lb of tomatillos – look for ones with their leaves (husks) tightly on.
1 onion (quartered)
2 bunches of cilantro
2-4 serrano chilies
garlic powder to taste
chicken broth- to thin sauce out

De-husk and scrub tomatillos under water until sticky residue comes off. Pour enough water into a sauce pan to cover tomatillos.

Add onions and 2-4 serrano chiles to boil. (I only had a jalapeno pepper, so I cut this in half and scraped out the seeds before adding. It worked fine. I don’t like too much heat anyway. Such a gringa. )

Wash your hands after you handle any peppers or you’ll be sorry! (you only have to rub your eye once after handling peppers to see why this is an important step)

Lightly boil until tomatillos look tender. You want them to cook until they’re pliant, not cook them down. If they have split open then they’re over-cooked. About 6-10 minutes.

Remove onions,  tomatillos and your chilis with a slotted spoon and add them and the chopped cilantro into a blender.


The green stuff


Blend until smooth, adding chicken broth if you need to thin the sauce out a little.

Green chili sauce

In the blender

Add 1-1 1/2 tbsp of olive oil to a pan over medium heat. Add blended sauce and cook for 5-10 minutes until sauce turns a darker shade of green. Add garlic powder, salt, or more chiles to flavor.

Naturally I cooked my toms a little too long, but it didn’t seem to matter. I didn’t need to add any chicken stock because my sauce was wet enough.

green chili sauce

Season expertly...

After I’d cooked and seasoned it in the pan, I let my green chili sauce cool a bit then put in in a container in the fridge for later use.

I warmed some up in a small pan that night to put over some grilled salmon. Results? Accolades! Mucho accolades para mi!

Debbie was impressed. “Wow, you’ve come a long way, Jules!”

Even Marisa, who makes this all the time gave me two thumbs up. She’s seen the messes I’ve made. I was elated.

But now that I had a nice green sauce, I realized I’d have to find meals to use it in. Sort of like when you upgrade your rug, you suddenly need new furniture to go with it.

Used it on tacos one night. Yay! More salmon. If I could only find my vegetarian enchilada recipe, I might be able to use the rest of it up. I might just shred some chicken in there and serve the rest over rice and veggies.

See? The sauce is making me reach. I choose to view this as a positive development, although you all should stay tuned for tales of ruin.

I made a sauce!

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: