Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Salsa Verde, the Savior of my Week

It all started last Friday. I was so excited to embark on my second Daring Baker Challenge... And I had a good reason for all the extra calories involved since Maeckel was coming over Saturday night for dinner. It was his birthday, and it has become somewhat of a tradition. But it was a disaster, the Daring Baker Challenge. Tears were not involved, but Frustration certainly reared his ugly head. For details, please tune in Thursday for the whole story...

But luckily, I had a plan B. Part of the challenge was salvageable and made its way into a dessert. And I knew I could not go wrong cooking something of Rick Bayless'. We had Spicy Country Style Pork Ribs (from the Julia Child Cooking with Master Chefs cookbook). I have made other similar sauces of Rick Bayless', and never have gone wrong. In fact, next Thursday, my husband and I are going to Chicago to eat at Topolobampo for the first time ever, for my birthday. I'm so excited, that I find myself really unable to cook in anticipation. Maybe I want to be really hungry. I haven't really been starving though, since I made his salsa verde to accompany our dinner Saturday night.

Some leftovers for Maeckel to take home...

I can happily eat leftover anything topped with salsa, and I really think that next to mango salsa, this is the one I usually have in my fridge at all times. I used to do it exactly like Rick Bayless suggests in his book, but now I kind of tweaked it to be a tad less messy. Since I had the oven on anyway on Saturday, I actually just roasted the tomatillos for a really long time, and toasted the chiles de arbol and garlic on a skillet in there too. I love this salsa, because roasting the tomatillos can make the best of even so-so fruits, and the dried chiles enable you to make this whenever you have a feeling too.

So here is my interpretation of:

Rick Bayless's Salsa Verde:

1 lb. tomatillos

8 or more dried chiles de arbol (can be found in most Latin sections of the supermarket, or order online from Amazon or my favorite The Spice House) The first time I made this salsa with a whopping 3 oz. of chiles, and it was HOT...I do notice that the heat subsides the longer it resides in your refrigerator.

1 or 2 garlic cloves, unpeeled

You can place the tomatillos under the broiler until they blacken in spots, but this really makes a huge mess of your oven. If I don't feel like the extra cleanup, or if the oven is already on, I like to roast the tomatillos until they are nice and soft, but still retain their shapes. If you are using the oven, you can toast the chiles and garlic in there too. Otherwise, just toast the chiles for a couple of minutes on a hot cast iron pan on the stovetop, and toast the garlic until it becomes nice and soft and blackened in a few spots, about 15 minutes.

After the chiles are toasted, soak them for 15-30 minutes in boiling water to soften them a bit. I've also made this without rehydrating them, but I think this step makes the texture of the final salsa better.

When your components are finished roasting and toasting and soaking, combine everything in the food pro, or a blender if you have a good one (I do NOT. Last time I had to move everything to the food pro after attempting to use my dinosaur of a blender, so I had twice the clean up. I really should have just chucked the stupid blender into the garbage, but it does still work - meaning the blades still go around anyway - so I just couldn't. But if someone were to give me a nice shiny new blender, and since I'm dreaming, maybe a VitaMix... I would accept in a heartbeat.) Blend until it looks like nice salsa, and season with a bit of salt and a tiny bit of sugar - basically to your taste. You could also throw in a handful of cilantro here if you desire.



Now your salsa verde is ready for inclusion into anything. I served it with quesadillas yesterday, and had it on tacos for lunch today. And last night when I mixed it with the mango salsa on my plate, really thought I may be on to something. So I probably will have to make another batch and include the two together.

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