Due to the late summer heat wave we are experiencing in the midwest — 100 degrees fahrenheit heat index today — I have preempted my planned post to share my signature summer recipe for barbecues and parties. The citrus-like flavor of the fresh tomatillos is a wonderful accompaniment to grilled chicken and fish. This is very definitely not an Irish dish, but I am frequently asked for the recipe so I am posting it. It is based on a recipe I first came across in “Food and Wine” magazine in the late ’90’s. It can be prepared in no time and is very flexible. You can make it your signature recipe too by adjusting the ingredients to your personal taste. If you like a hotter sauce, include two instead of one jalapeno or use the hotter serrano pepper. If you like a milder sauce, add more lime juice and cilantro Similarly, if you want to serve it with chips as a lighter version of guacamole, use two avocados. Taste, taste, taste as you go along and adjust. Somehow, it tastes a little different every time I make it depending on whether I use organic, farm grown tomatillos (which grow very well in the midwest), or the heat of the pepper. Warning: be very careful handling and cutting hot chili peppers, I usually wear rubber or latex gloves. The heat of the peppers very easily transfers to your hands — and your eye if you are not very careful. Trust me, I’ve done it and it is misery.
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- ½ tsp. salt
- 8 to 10 tomatillos, husked, washed and chopped coarsely
- ½ a white onion, coarsely chopped and rinsed
- 1 jalapeno pepper seeded, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup cilantro, leaves and stems
- juice of one lime
- 1 avocado
- Place garlic clove and salt in a food processor. Pulse until garlic is pureed.
- Add tomatillos, onion, cilantro, half the jalapeno and lime juice. It’s impossible to tell how hot the jalapeno is by looking at it so it’s safest to start with half a pepper and add more if you like more heat. Puree.
- Taste and add more jalapeno if you like more heat. More cilantro and lime juice will tone the salsa down if it’s too hot.
- Add avocado flesh and just pulse. The avocado should still be chunky, not pureed.
Borrowing a tip from famed Topolobambo/Frontera chef Rick Bayless, I rinse the white onion under cold water before adding it to the other salsa ingredients for a milder onion flavor.