I often use canned green enchilada sauce – many of them are quite good (though the ones labeled hot are usually too one-note and too burningly, unpleasantly spicy to be able to enjoy the taste). But when I’m feeling more ambitious and have time, I make my own enchilada sauce. It isn’t difficult and you can control the heat factor and sodium content (which is often off the charts with the canned product).
When working with fresh chiles, wash your hands very, very thoroughly afterwards, and refrain from touching your eyes, mouth, etc. for some hours afterwards.
Here are two recipes I like. The first is one I developed, and which owes a lot to Anna Thomas and her Vegetarian Epicure books.
GREEN ENCHILADA SAUCE
- 1- 1/2 pounds raw tomatillos, husked
- 1 fresh green Jalapeno
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 1 bunch green onions (scallions) or 1/2 of a white or yellow onion
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1-2 fresh limes
- chicken broth or vegetable broth
Put the tomatillos, Jalapeno, onions, and garlic in a dry frying pan and dry-roast them over medium heat, turning frequently, until they have browned spots all over. Put the Jalapeno in a small bag, close it up, and let steam for 15 minutes, then peel off the skin, cut open, and discard the seeds. (See note above about washing.)
Cut up the roasted vegetables and put in a blender or food processor with 1/2 cup broth, and blitz until pureed. Add more broth as necessary to make it a sauce consistency. When sauce is pureed and the right consistency, add salt and cilantro leaves and pulse until leaves are finely chopped. Then squeeze in the juice of one lime. Taste and adjust seasonings – it might require more lime or salt. Let sit a couple of hours to develop flavors.
- Instead of the Jalapeno, you can substitute one 4-ounce can peeled green chiles.
- You can add ground cumin and/or oregano, or any other spice that seems appropriate.
- A small glug of olive oil can smooth out the sauce and help carry the flavors.
- Other additions might include a little sherry vinegar, a pinch or two of sugar, a chopped tomato, garlic, and so on as your taste dictates.
This second recipe is from California the Beautiful Cookbook by John Phillip Carroll, a really lovely coffee table-type book with wonderful recipes and beautiful photography. The sauce is quite different from the semi-cooked salsa above – a raw green salsa cruda that would be great with tortilla chips. The author uses this for shrimp enchiladas.
- 12 fresh tomatillos, chopped, about 3 cups
- 1 red onion, peeled and cut into chunks
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and cut into pieces
- 1 large Anaheim (mild green) chiles, seeded and cut into pieces
- 1 Jalapeno, seeded and cut into pieces
- 1/2 cup cilantro springs
Put all ingredients except salt in a food processor and pulse just until coarsely chopped. Season with salt to taste.