Mexican Dried Chile Tomatillo Salsa

makes about 2 1/2 cups salsa


A dark red smoky salsa to serve with any Mexican creation; tacos, rice and beans or anything you can dream up. Depending on the variety of chiles used it can be just barely piquant to tongue-blistering, so head my advice regarding your selection of chiles. A good beginner-level version of this salsa should use only Ancho chiles for a slightly spicy deep red salsa with hints of wood smoke and berries. Toasting and plumping the chiles in boiling water removes any bitterness, and roasting the tomatillos enhances their tart flavor.

If tomatillos are in short supply in your world, substitute green regular tomatoes, or look for canned tomatillos anywhere Mexican groceries are sold. If using canned tomatillos, skip the broiling step and add them (along with the juices) directly into the blender along with the rest of the ingredients.


Chile tip: Large, soft ancho, guajillo, or pasilla chiles are deep red chiles with varying degrees of mild heat that make a good beginner’s salsa. If you crave more heat sneak in some small, bright red dried chile de arbol or small but deadly piquin chiles or long, glossy costeño chiles. Look for an assortment of dried chiles sold in plastic bags in Mexican groceries.


3 ounces dried Mexican chile peppers (see note for suggestion of combination of peppers), either one kind or a combination

1 pound tomatillos, papery husk removed

1 small red or white onion, peeled and diced

1 tablespoon lime juice

3 cloves garlic, peeled

1 teaspoon sugar or ½ teaspoon agave nectar

1 teaspoon salt or to taste


1. In a large sauce pan bring 1 quart of water to boil. Have ready a medium sized glass or metal heat-resistant bowl. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. While skilled is heating slice open dried chiles, remove stems and seeds and open chilies so that they can be easily flattened when pressed with a spatula. Place chilies in heated skillet, and toast them for about a minute, pressing and frequently flipping over the chiles. Watch carefully to prevent chilies from burning. Remove skillet from heat and place chilies in a heat resistant bowl. Pour boiling water over chilies and set aside for 10 minutes, allowing chilies to soften. Drain water from chilies.


2. Preheat the oven broiler to high and get ready a 10 to 12 inch cast iron skillet. In a mixing bowl cover the tomatillos with hot water and slosh around to remove the soapy residue on the skins. Drain, pat tomatillos dry, and arrange in the skillet. Broil for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the skins of the tomatillos have turned a dull green, are charred in places and the skins have begun to split open. Turn off the oven, remove from heat, and set aside to cool for 5 minutes. Transfer the roasted tomatillos to a blender or food processor. Add the drained chiles and remaining ingredients. Puree into a thick salsa, but don’t make it too smooth, and leave a little bit of chunky texture.


3. Store in a tightly covered container in the fridge; the flavor will develop as it cools. Use within 2 weeks.