Monday, January 22, 2007

Chipotle Tomatillo Salsa

We made a pilgrimage to Penzey's in Arlington, Mass on Saturday - to stock up on some spices and get a feel for what the whole store would be like beyond the catalog. We certainly had a good time smelling all the spices and mixes - they have glass jars with samples of each so you can experience the aroma (warning: avoid deeply inhaling the powdered jalapeno!), although we also had our nit-picks with the store and it's location, etc. Mr. Penzey, if you read this, call us up for some advice on how to improve your business here in Boston!

We stocked up on a few necessities: cumin, fennel, tarragon, sage, chili powder, and others. We also picked up a bag of chipotle peppers - totalling about 10 of the smoked, dried jalapenos. So we naturally decided to make chipotle salsa!

We decided to try for the "real" stuff - no chunky, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink salsa... we wanted authentic chipotle salsa. So we picked up some tomatillos to make our salsa with - like little tomatoes with a husk, you char the outside to get to their tart, lemony flavor. Along with some limes, garlic, and salt - we'll bolster the volume with just a few spoonfuls of canned/stewed tomatoes - and that's it.

So first we had to rehydrate the chipotles by boiling three of them in water for 20 minutes. By the end of that time, the dry, shriveled peppers had re-grown to full jalapeno size and shape. We let those dry and then sliced them open to remove all the seeds and any water left inside.

Next, we husked the tomatillos and then charred each of them over the stove burner using tongs until the outer skin is just barely starting to blacken. You can feel the water inside the tomatillos starting to boil as they heat up on the hot flame!

Peel a couple of garlic cloves and cut two limes in half and we're ready to go! Into our little food processor: the three split chipotles, the eight charred tomatillos, two cloves of garlic, the juice from one lime, and a healthy pinch of salt. Chop, chop, chop... Blend, blend, blend... it almost instantly became a watery consistancy. A little taste tells us that it is SPICY and smokey, and that we need more lime, more salt - and to fill it out with some of the stewed tomatoes.

So we added a few big spoonfuls of the tomatoes and more lime and salt and chopped it up some more. Then it was into a container and into the fridge for a good sit.

An hour later, we gathered some tortilla chips and we were finally ready to taste the result - so smokey and spicy and delicious! It tasted like the salsa from one of our favorite authentic Mexican restaurants - Salsa's in South Boston. Stacey believed it was a little TOO spicy for public consumption - but just right for us. This stuff was ADDICTIVE, we had to physically remove it from the table after a while because we couldn't stop eating it! A cold beer helped wash it down and quenched our burning lips. Awesome stuff!


sher said...

Ahh, I love going into Penzeys. The smells are incredible. The salsa looks soo good!

wheresmymind said...

That store location bites....I wish it was downtown somewhere easy to get to...Arlington BAH!

Boston Chef said...

yeah, you're not kidding. we felt like we should have packed the tent and some extra clothes in the car trying to get out there! and it's only like 6 miles out of Boston - feels like 60!

We're convinced that if you put that place on Boylston St. or in the Copley Mall and they could close down all other locations!

Trevor said...

Looks like we're both tomatillo fans. The salsa look really rich. My friend makes watermelon tomatillo salso, good stuff.