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
Dietary Considerationdiabetic, egg-free, gluten-free, halal, healthy, kosher, lactose-free, low calorie, low carb, low cholesterol, low saturated fat, low-fat, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegan, vegetarian
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