The culture of Mexico is ancient and rich and varied. I got a little taste of it living in the twin border cities of El Paso and Juarez back in the late seventies. Moles are probably the crowning glory of Mexican cuisine, but they have a million ingredients and take all day to make. I’ve made a simple one and ruined a couple of complex versions. (Throwing away a big pot of food after working at for many hours is very hard to do.) This recipe for a green salsa is almost as good and a lot simpler, although you do have to pay attention because you’re playing with fire. It’s inspired by Rick Bayless, Julios restaurant in El Paso/Juarez and my own hungry mind. You’ll need:

  1. Tomatillos. Check under the husk of each one to make sure there’s no icky spots.
  2. Poblanos. Nice shiny green ones with no blemishes. Or pick the best of the lot.
  3. A bunch of cilantro, rinsed well, leaves only.
  4. White onion.
  5. Fresh lime juice plus zest.
  6. Jalapeno.
  7. Roasted garlic. Slice the top off the pointy end, cover with tin foil and roast at 400 for about and hour. When you can smell it, it’s almost done.
  8. Husk and wash the tomatillos, put them in a big bowl with the poblanos and onions (halved), add some olive oil and grill or broil until they get some color. Try to keep the tomatillos from puncturing and losing their juice. The poblanos are done when their skin is blackened and blistered. The onions will take the longest. (This is the most labor intensive part of the dish, so no tequila or schmoozing until you cover all the grilled vegetables with plastic and put them in the fridge to cool off a little bit. Salut!
  9. Peel, stem and seed the poblanos (a few stray seeds only make it look more authentic), and put them in a blender with the tomatillos, cilantro, onion, lime juice and zest, jalapeno (leave the seeds and veins if you want it extra hot and are lazy), the roast garlic and salt to taste. Add some water if it’s too chunky. Serve with chips or mix with avocado for guacamole. Also good for enchiladas, burritos and tacos. Will keep in the fridge for several days.

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