Keeping Up With Mrs. Smith

When a perfectionist moves into a fixer-upper…

Celebrate Hatch Chile with Green Chile Sauce!

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Once upon a time, I did not like green chile…or any other color of chile, for that matter.

(Because I was a very naughty and ignorant child.)

Back in my chile-hating days, my family would drive an hour up the road to Hatch, New Mexico on Labor Day Weekend for the Hatch Chile Festival.  The minute we entered town, we could smell the aroma of chiles being roasted.  And to think I found the smell unappealing!

(Again, I had a few screws loose when I was ten years old.)

Now I would give anything to revisit that festival and taste everything in sight, not to mention bring home a truckload of roasted green goodness!  Unfortunately, since a September trip to New Mexico was not in the plans, I decided this past spring to plant an assortment of Serrano and Anaheim peppers instead.

I am sad to say that I picked the last of our bounty this past week, but I have been carefully stock-piling them over the summer for this purpose and this purpose alone:

Green Chile Sauce

Green chile sauce is pure magic!  Spoon it over skirt steak, use it as a base for stew, pour it over enchiladas, mix it in with your baby’s formula–use it whenever you feel like turning an ordinary dish into a vibrant and memorable dish.  For the past few years, I have faithfully followed Fine Cooking’s recipe for Green Chile Sauce because it has the best depth and balance of flavors.  I’ve made a few tweaks to it such as replacing the cornstarch with flour, but other than that, there’s no point in messing with greatness.

Right now, many grocery stores are offering fresh Hatch chilies, and better yet, are setting up their outdoor roasters with which to roast your chilies for you.  Furthermore, some stores even sell pre-roasted, pre-peeled green chilies!   So there’s really no excuse NOT to buy at least a pound of these pungent peppers!

There is also no excuse NOT to try your hand at making your own green chile sauce.  (I dare you to go back to the canned stuff!)

Green Chile Sauce (adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine)

Roast or (in my case) boil 1 1/2 pounds of chilies.  Sadly, in the interest of time, I boiled mine in a large pot filled halfway with water for about 15 minutes or until the skins got loose.

For maximum flavor, however, use roasted chilies.

Peel, seed and chop chilies.  (Use gloves or your hands will be on fire like mine were.)

Now for the tomatillos!

Such strange looking things.  These tomato-looking creatures are actually members of the gooseberry family, NOT the tomato family.

Remove the papery skins from 5-6 medium-sized tomatillos.  Don’t be alarmed by the sticky, waxy surface, though.  That’s just a tomatillo being a tomatillo.

Boil tomatillos for about 15 minutes until soft  (don’t over-cook them or they will be utter mush!) and dump them into a food processor or blender.

Process until smooth and pour into a large pot.

Add chilies along with 2 teaspoons minced onion, 1 clove of garlic, minced, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  (It’s best that you use white pepper instead of black since it has a mellower flavor.)

Stir in 1 teaspoon dried oregano…

…and 1 quart of chicken broth.  Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, and then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Cook’s Tip: Thanks to a clever tip from my clever friend, Pam, I’ve started making broth in the Crock-Pot.  That way, it can simmer for hours without me having to babysit it or add more water to it.  To give my broth an extra boost, I added a few whole Serranos to the pot.

Mix a few tablespoons of flour or cornstarch with a couple tablespoons of chicken broth and whisk into the sauce until completely incorporated–you don’t want chunks of slurry in your creation.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened slightly and reduced to 4 to 4-1/2 cups, about 5 to 15 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and a couple squirts of Tabasco sauce.  (My chilies were pretty HOT so I did not need the latter.)

Sniff, sniff!

I don’t know about you, but I can SMELL this photo, and it smells deeeeelicioso!

As for the taste, the tomatillos offer just enough tang to brighten the earthy flavor of the chilies and saltiness of the broth.  Someone get me a tortilla and grilled pork chop, STAT!

The Recipe

(Adapted from Fine Cooking)

*7 to 8 oz. tomatillos (about 5 medium)

*1 qt. homemade or low-salt chicken broth

*1-1/4 to 1-1/2 lb. fresh Anaheim chiles (6- to 8-inch-long chiles), roasted or boiled, peeled, and seeded, coarsely chopped

*2 tsp. minced yellow onion

*1 tsp. dried oregano (or 2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano)

*1 clove garlic, minced

*1/2 tsp. kosher salt; more to taste

*1/4 tsp. ground white pepper

*3 Tbs.flour, dissolved in 2 Tbs. broth

*Tabasco sauce, optional

Remove the papery outer skin from the tomatillos and place in boiling water until soft, 5 to 10 min. Drain and purée in a blender or food processor. Return the tomatillos to the saucepan along with the chicken broth, chopped green chiles, minced onion, oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 min. Add the flour slurry; stir well. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened slightly and reduced to 4 to 4-1/2 cups, another 5 to 15 min. Adjust the seasonings if needed, including hot sauce if the sauce isn’t spicy enough to suit your taste.

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There’s still time to vote for me as the next Taste of Home’s Mrs. Holiday!  Click on this link, hit “Vote Now.”  Search for “Leilani Smith Halloween” and click “Vote for Entry.”  Voting ends September 7th.

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