Smoky Chipotle Salsa with Pan-Roasted Tomatillos
I’ve been smitten with chipotle salsa ever since the first time I tasted it on a crusty sandwich (cemita) in a Pueblan market stall thirty years ago. It’s three simple ingredients in perfect balance: the smoky spice of chipotle chilies, the lively sweet-edged tang of roasted tomatillo and the alluring complexity of roasted garlic. I like chipotle salsa spooned on practically everything except ice cream, though I’m particularly fond of it with grilled fish or chicken or beef or...here I go again.
Riffs on Chipotle Salsa:
You can replace the tomatillos with roasted tomatoes (two 4-ounce plum tomatoes, toasted like the tomatillos, or half a drained 15-ounce can of fire-roasted tomatoes), but keep in mind that the tomato will tip the flavor toward sweet rather than tangy. A little cilantro, fresh thyme or parsley is always welcome, as is green or white onion – especially if it’s grilled. A splash of mescal (or the less-smoky tequila) makes a borracha (drunken) salsa that’s dynamite. Instead of pureeing the chiles, you can finely chop them and add them to the pureed (green) base; they’ll show up as a little red flecks, and the salsa will be less smoky.
Easy Chipotle Sauté:
In a very large (12-inch) skillet, sauté 1 sliced white onion with 1 to 1 ¼ pounds cubed boneless chicken breast, pork tenderloin, steak, shrimp or firm tofu until well browned. Add the salsa and stir-fry until everything is done as you like, dribble in a little water if the sauce is too thick for you. This is really good sprinkled with chopped cilantro.
Total Timeunder 15 minutes
Make Ahead RecipeYes
Five Ingredients or LessYes
Taste and Texturegarlicky, hot & spicy, smoky, tangy, tart
Type of Dishsalsa, sauces
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 4 medium (about 8 ounces total) tomatillos, husked, rinsed and cut in half
- 2 canned chipotle chiles en adobo (or more, if you like really spicy salsa)
Set a large (10-inch) nonstick skillet over medium-high heat (if you don’t have a nonstick skillet, lay in a piece of foil). Lay in the garlic and tomatillos (cut side down). When the tomatillos are well browned, 3 or 4 minutes, turn everything over and brown the other side. (The tomatillos should be completely soft.)
Scoop the garlic and tomatillos into a blender jar or food processor, along with the chiles and ¼ cup of water. Process to a coarse puree. Pour into a salsa dish and cool.
Thin with a little additional water if necessary to give the salsa an easily spoonable consistency. Taste and season with salt, usually a generous ½ teaspoon.
2009 Rick Bayless