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Roasted Salsa Verde

I love salsa verde. Throw it into a pot with a pork shoulder and you’ve got chili verde, ready for stuffing peppers or enchiladas. Mix it with crème fraîche and use it as a sauce for grilled fish. Or just eat it in a warm tortilla with cheese and a scrambled egg, like I do. It’s the breakfast of champions, the real deal.

I make enough to can, and this year I’m even growing my own tomatillos (a lovely purple heirloom variety from Territorial). I usually can it in pints, but this is too much to eat before it goes off, so this year I did half pints. Half pints are just so much more manageable, aren’t they?

My roasted salsa verde is pretty special. If you want to can your own, you can use my recipe, but be warned: mine is not from the NCHFP site or the Blue Book. Mine uses way less onion than the NCHFP recipe, but it uses more tomatillos. It has the same amount of lime juice, so I figure it all comes out in the wash. And this handy (peer-reviewed, published) study found that plain tomatillos, after canning, have a pH below 4.1, which is acidic enough to kill Botulism. That study also tested canned tomatillos with onions and with peppers, and they both had a pH below 4.2, which is the cutoff. Anecdotally, I’ve been making it this way for years and haven’t had any illnesses.

Another warning: if you leave a comment saying how unsafe my recipe is, I will tear you a new one in front of everybody.

So about that recipe:

Roasted Salsa Verde

(Makes about ten half pints)
8 cups clean, husked, quartered tomatillos
4 Anaheim chilis
2 small onions (about 2 cups coarsely chopped)
6 cloves garlic
juice and zest from two limes, or one cup bottled juice (no, I don’t think it matters)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon Mexican oregano, crushed

Instructions:

Roast the tomatillos, chiles, onions and garlic at 375 for 30 minutes or so (or until they’re browned at the edges and soft). It’s easiest if you do the chiles in a separate pan so you can cover them and let them sit when they’re done. Wait 15 or so minutes and this will help the skins just slip right off, as pictured below. I think it probably goes without saying that you don’t want the seeds or the stems, but there’s always some wiseass who pulls a Simon Says on me.

Chiles, before
Chiles, after

Dump the roasted vegetables and everything else into a large bowl or pot (try to mop out the good browned juices for flavor – you can use the squeezed-out limes for this purpose) and whizz it up with an immersion blender. Ladle into clean half-pint jars, dip a butter knife in to remove air bubbles and wipe the rims with a damp paper towel. Affix the lids and bands and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Technically, this is the processing time for pints, so it might seem a bit long for ha’pints; since everything has already been cooked, it won’t hurt a bit to be in there a few minutes longer. Test the seals the next day, and refrigerate any that don’t seal (plan on eating any unsealed jars within a week or two).

You’ll likely notice that the salsa has firmed up a bit. This is because tomatillos are naturally high in pectin. You can dilute it with a little water when you go to use it, if it bothers you. It doesn’t affect the flavor, though, so don’t worry your pretty little head. Just worry about finding enough ways to enjoy eating the salsa (or just eat it for breakfast).