Friday, August 17, 2012

A Texan Talks Goin' Green with Tex-Mex Tomatillo Sauce

Goin’ green in Texas is much bigger than simply addressing the state of planetary and energy conservation...

Tex-Mex Tomatillo Sauce tops Enchiladas Verdes.
Low carb and delicious!
Go green! Yep I said it. It’s Hatch green chile season here in Texas and in what I suspect are other lesser known areas of the universe.

Oh come on!

You and I BOTH know that Texas is the center of the universe. Nah, let’s be real…me, myself, and I living in Texas and talkin’ about tempting low carb comfort food – that’s the REAL center of the universe! Trick question! See? You have to stay on your toes to keep up. I may be fluffy, but I’m fast!

To a Texan, Green is so much more than a state of social consciousness.

Yes, so Hatch chiles. Well honestly? Texas annexed ‘em. Even though Hatch is officially located in the southwest sector of New Mexico just north of the New Mexico – Texas state line. According to New Mexico True, the official travel site for the entire state of New Mexico, even though New Mexican cuisine spans 400 years and claims to blend Spanish and native American cultures and cuisines...I (and most Texans) firmly believe anything remotely hot or Tex-Mex or "southwestern" in nature, at least food-wise,
Hatch, New Mexico put New Mexico on the map with their special
cultivation of the green chile.
inherently belongs to Texas.

Now THAT is truly what Texas fought for in the Texas War of Independence. Let’s call it The Texas War To Claim Any Tasty Food We Like as Texan. (And yeah, those Cajuns along our southeastern coast are just lucky they’re easy and can be bought with a stiff drink and a dance! Cuz we woulda fought and whooped them too just for the chance to pinch their roux, gumbo, jambalaya, and étouffée!)

Ok, let’s forget for a second that I can barely remember my name after the chemo treatment. And let’s forgive me for perpetually misspelling chile, chili, chilli, chilles, malapproping the whole pepper v. chile – grudge match.

Let's get down to the brass tacks of the subject! We’re talking necessity. Cuz Hatch green chiles are a basic necessity of life. Chock full of nutrients and vitamin C, these babies are nutritional brickhouses! But don't take my word for it. Go google it! I'm very sure you will find great information on LiveStrong or someplace like The Hatch Green Chile Festival!

click to enlarge
That’s right. Each year at this time, I buy pounds of these chiles conveniently pre-roasted at the grocery stores in giant, commercial chile roasters, then I freeze them in one pound lots! They keep for a year. Trust me! I know! Hatch chiles are a necessity! And these dishes become part of my freezer treasure!

You may ask why? See? I know you by now! Why do I treasure Hatch chiles? Well, the canned Hatch peppers just don’t have that fresh bite that even frozen roasted Hatch chiles have! And the freezer I’m sure adulterates them a bit and degrades them, but the taste is still far superior than any canned green chile on the face of the earth. I’m just callin’ it like I see it.

The other thing to know is that I’m approaching this subject from a typical bassackwards way that most Texans approach things. Typically the first and last words out of our mouths are, “Hey y’all watch this!” (Thanks Jeff Foxworthy.) See, we THINK we can already discuss the outcome before we even start something and that’s kinda what I’m doing by jumping in feet first and giving you the Tomatillo Sauce recipe as the opener to Hatch season! You need to know that there is something worthy of watching here!

I don't get a dime from HEB or Central Market (whom HEB owns) for
this completely free and awesome advertising!

If you will bear with me, just do this right now. Go out to your store and buy as many pounds of (preferably) pre-roasted Hatch green chiles as you can a) afford and b) have room to comfortably store in your freezer and c) I’m not totally ruling out the possibility of buying a freezer dedicated to storing nothing but Hatch chiles.

I get a mix of hot and mild. Keep ‘em separate but get both. That way you can adjust your heat to fit your specifications and recipe. Don’t bother skinning the peel off of them. Just stick them in 1 pound bags and freeze ‘em – preferably with a vacuum seeler! You can peel them when you go to make something. Buy disposable powder-free kitchen gloves while you’re at it (um, blue color would be good)!

Chile Roaster at its finest! Photo courtesy of
The Taos Unlimited Blog.
You can buy the green chiles fresh and roast them yourself. But trust me, anyone with a barrel roaster will do a far better job than you will. Unless you too have a barrel roaster. In which case, you don’t need me or my recipes! You da man!

So yeah, this is Hatch season. I’m gonna give you three or four recipes coming up – maybe more! These recipes will form a foundation of the “Green” subculture within Tex-Mex cuisine. See, even in Texas, there’s green and there’s red. And then there’s chili gravy but that’s a whole ‘nother subculture!

Here’s the way the recipes will shake out (feel free to holler at me if you have no desire to see these recipes discussed:

Tex-Mex Tomatillo Sauce
Oven Roasted Pork – Carnitas – style
Oven Roasted Criolla – Style Pork
Green Chili v. Green Chili Gravy v. Green Chili Stew
Street Tacos (yep, annexed from Mexico)
Enchiladas Verdes
Oven Roasted Green Chile Rellenos

As you can see, that’s quite a few posts coming up. So stop me now if this will bore the crap outta ya and you want me to get on to talking about some other kind of Texas-drivel!?!

Right! Let’s get down to it then!

Tex-Mex Tomatillo Sauce

Recipe By:  Susie T. Gibbs
Serving Size: 10  ½ cup Servings  5 Cups Total Yield  
Preparation Time: 20 Minutes
Simmer Time:  45 Minutes
Start to Finish Time: 1 Hour - 5 Minutes
Difficulty:  Easy if you wear gloves to clean the chiles!

Tex-Mex Tomatillo Sauce is a staple in the kitchen. It freezes great, works with so many protein choices and tops enchiladas and green chiles with flair. Low carb and nutritious!

Enchiladas Verdes ready for the oven with Tomatillo
Sauce and cheese topping them.
10 ounces  green chile peppers – roasted and peeled (Hatch preferred)
13 ounces  tomatillo, whole -- (about 5-6 large)
4 ounces  onion
1 ounce  serrano peppers -- with seeds
4 cloves  garlic
1 teaspoon thyme leaves, dried
¼ cup  cilantro leaves, whole -- (or stems)
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper -- freshly ground
1 ½ cups  chicken broth -- (or defatted chicken or pork roast pan drippings)
2 cups  water

Scrape the black charred skin off the chile. That dry, charred skin will choke you and make you hock up a lung if you try to eat unpeeled, charred chiles! Stem and seed green chiles. (Hatch chiles preferred.) If you don't have access to fresh, used canned and drained green chiles (large can - think it's 64oz).

Wash and coarsely chop veggies into chunks. Throw everything, all veggies and spices into a medium size sauce pan.

Add the whole garlic cloves (peel 'em though)!

Add cilantro stems. They'll blend up to nothin'!

Add thyme.

Add salt and pepper.

Defat pan drippings or use canned or boxed chicken broth to equal 1-1/2 cups.

Be sure to save the skimmed fat.

Portion the skimmed fat roughly into 2 tablespoon portions, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and freeze. Don't forget to mark the bag for contents and date. You'll forget. I promise you will. And you can use that fat to flavor so many dishes and to make low carb roux! It’s a flavor packed time saver.

(Note about pan drippings: These pan drippings will make all the difference in the world to this sauce.

Usually the Sunday before making a batch of sauce or anything having to do with Hatch chiles, I will roast some kind of pork shoulder or fresh pork picnic joint (recipes to come). That pork is cooked to fork tender, yet juicy moistness.

Fluffy Chix Cook will ladle a bit of that liquid gold over the pulled pork, but will save at least a cup to a cup and a half for sauces coming up during the week!

Tomatillo Sauce still tastes great with canned stock, but will taste infinitely better when you add the juices from a roast. Any roast. It doesn't matter what kind! It's really the secret of the sauce. Those drippings are liquid gold. Trust me. This is a true story, y'all!)

Add defatted stock or canned stock.

Add water.

Add roughly chopped chiles.

Bring veggies and liquid up to a boil. Reduce to simmer. Cover and simmer 30 to 45 minutes until all veggies are very tender.

Remove from heat. Cool slightly and puree until smooth. (There will be seeds from the Serranos and tomatillos, that's fine! You want them for texture.) Adjust salt levels. Ole!

Serve immediately on your favorite Tex-Mex dish or cool thoroughly, portion and freeze as a base sauce and time saving low carb staple! Hey, don't forget to make Fluffy Chix Low Carb, Soy Free "Flour" Tortillas. They work perfectly with Tomatillo Sauce!

Tomatillo Sauce Nutritional Information:
Per Serving: 33 Calories; 1g Fat (16.2% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 5.8g Carbohydrate; 1.3g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 166mg Sodium, 5g; 4.5g Net Carbs

Exchanges: 0 Grain (Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 0 Fat.

This is one of my favorite Tex-Mex sauces. The resulting Enchiladas Verdes that will make it out of your kitchen will be stunning. Your family will throw a parade in your honor. Yes, it's that good. I keep this sauce made up at all times. I make it in stages: Sunday I make a pork shoulder or fresh pork picnic, reserving all the pan juices. Then during the week, I make the sauce or pull it from the freezer when I'm ready to Tex-Mex my way to enchilada heaven.

Green Tomatillo Sauce tops Pork Enchiladas Verdes.
Low Carb and Induction Friendly!

I also buy roasted Hatch green chiles every year at the grocery store and freeze them in 1lb bags. I don't bother peeling them until I'm ready to use them. They store great for sauces, soups, and stews of all kinds.

Also, the ratio of chiles to tomatillos is mostly irrelevant. Use as many as you have or want! More tomatillos will yield a sharper, tangier sauce. More green chiles will yield a smoother, mellower but spicier sauce. It's up to you. There is NO right or wrong in this recipe!

Fluffy Chix use the cilantro stems in this sauce. No need to waste your pretty leaves. Leave that for finishing garnish. The stems add bold cilantro flavor, get tender with cooking, and puree well! It's a way to use the whole plant!

Full Recipe - $3.82
Per Serving - Make 10 - 1/2 cup Servings at $0.39/each

Cooked Pork Enchiladas Verdes ready to eat. Hard
to believe these are low carb, right?!
Serving Ideas: Serve sauce over homemade pork or chicken enchiladas and top with white cheese, sour cream and a radish and avocado salad. Don't forget a wedge of lime!

Makes great Oven Baked Chile Rellenos and Pulled Pork Tacos, too.

Make a green tomatillo chicken soup or stew using roasted cauliflower and Tomatillo Sauce.

Top Oven Roasted Zucchini or Cauli Fries with Tomatillo Sauce and Melted Cheese.
So many options for this amazing sauce.


  1. Looks great and I'm looking forward to all the other Tex-Mex recipes too!

    1. Thanks Patty! I'm excited to get them to ya!!! Yeehawwww!

  2. As someone that just moved to Texas....
    I totally get it :-)

    The pork shoulder looks AMAZING!


    1. Welcome to Texas! :)

      Hope you try the pork shoulder and also the tomatillo sauce! I'm working on an enchiladas verdes post right now! :D


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