Botana de Chicharrón con Salsa Verde

Mexico is a very nose-to-tail consumer when it comes to eating animals; like in many other developing countries, and often motivated by economic circumstances in an effort to use the whole animal and not leave much—if any—waste, there are a lot of delicious and unique foods that have come out of this scrappiness. One of these simple delicacies is chicharrón, made of fried pork skins. 

Botana de chicharrón con salsa verde

This botana, or appetizer, of chicharrón served with salsa verde is very typical in Mexico. Generally, these pork skin cracklings are made by boiling the skin, hanging it to dry, then deep frying it in hot oil until the skin puffs up. They’re by no means a healthy snack, so should be eaten in moderation, but they’re a guilty pleasure worth the indulgence.

They’re not quite the same as processed food pork rinds or pork cracklings you might find in a potato chip-like bag in the supermarket. For that reason, it’s best to buy them from your local carnicería or near the butcher’s counter in any Mexican market.

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ENCHILADAS VERDES

Last month at my cooking show at the Kenmore Live Studio where I made chilaquiles, I talked about the versatility of salsa verde. I can think of about a dozen uses for this sauce just off the top of my head, so when I make it, I usually make extra so that I can get a few different meals out of it. One of my favorite things to make with salsa verde is enchiladas.

This recipe is so easy to make; great whether you need to feed just a few or a whole family. A few weeks ago, I made these enchiladas for my suegro and he ate three helpings! I laughed and asked him whether they were that good or if he was very hungry and as he was about to take another bite, he said “both!” These are also a favorite of José’s.

If you want to make these vegetarian, you can substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth in the salsa and fill them with cheese instead of chicken.

RECETA:

ENCHILADAS VERDES

FOR SALSA VERDE

  • A little over 1 pound of small tomatillos, husked & thoroughly washed
  • 3-5 serrano chiles (depending how spicy you like it), stems cut off and roughly chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 1-2 slices of white onion
  • A pinch or two of salt to taste
  • 1-1 ¼ cup chicken broth or water

FOR THE ENCHILADAS

  • 3 cups shredded chicken (2 chicken breasts and some dark meat)
  • 6-7 oz (about ¾ cup) of shredded Chihuahua cheese
  • ½ cup crema Mexicana
  • A dozen corn tortillas
  • Some canola oil for frying the tortillas

To make the salsa:

First, husk and wash the tomatillos. Rinse them well in cool water.

Fill a pot with water (large enough to fit all the tomatillos) and bring to a boil. Put the tomatillos in and cook in the boiling water until the tomatillo flesh begins to get transparent. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatillos to a blender. Add the onion, garlic and salt. Cut the stems off the serrano chiles and cut each chile into a few pieces so they’re easily chopped in the blender.

Start by adding 2 chiles to the blender with about ¾ of a cup of water or chicken broth and blend on high until smooth and the chiles and tomatillos are completely incorporated. Taste the salsa to see if it’s too hot; if it needs more chile, add them one at a time, blending & tasting the result until you are happy with the level of heat from the chiles. If it seems the salsa is not quite liquid enough, add another ¼ cup of water or chicken broth. The salsa will reduce slightly when cooked.

Pour blender contents into a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the salsa boils, occasionally stirring. Remove from heat.

For more on salsa verde, visit my original post on the topic.

You can either make a bone-in chicken breast from scratch or use a store-bought rotisserie chicken if you’re short on time. For bone-in chicken breast and chicken stock, you can just gently boil the chicken on the stove with a pinch or two of salt, a slice of onion and a small spring of cilantro or a few epazote leaves until the meat is cooked through. If you use a rotisserie chicken, buy one that’s low-sodium or barely seasoned. You can pour the juices from the container into a saucepan with a few cups of water and a chicken leg or two.

To make the enchiladas:

Preheat the oven to 350º F (177º C).

Heat a little bit of oil in a frying pan (just enough to coat the bottom of the pan) and lightly fry both sides of the tortilla. Each side will dome up when it’s ready to be turned. Drain on paper towels. Put a bit of the shredded chicken in the center of each tortilla and add a generous pinch of the shredded Chihuahua cheese. Roll them up and place seam-side down in a baking dish.

Spread the crema liberally over the top of the enchiladas and then ladle some salsa over them. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and heat in the oven at 350º for 8-10 minutes to heat through. Then move to the top rack and broil on low until the cheese is completely melted and bubbly, with some brown spots. Remove from the oven. Using a spatula, transfer enchiladas to plates and finish with some extra salsa on top.

Yields 12 enchiladas. There will be some leftover salsa.

  • How do you like your enchiladas?

FILETE DE RES A LA CHIAPANECA

During my last visit to Mexico, one rainy afternoon I spent several hours leafing through my suegra’s cookbooks looking for some new tricks and some family recipes.

After writing several recipes down, I decided to just use my phone to take a photo of each recipe card so that I could have all the recipes without all the work of writing them down. Plus, they’d be easy to access in the kitchen and as an added bonus, they’re in the original handwriting of whichever relative gave my suegra the recipe. Some of them were even typed on a typewriter!

A month or two ago, José discovered my little secret while browsing the photos on my phone and he was like a little kid opening presents on Christmas. Now he’s always stealing my phone when he’s hungry! Last week he was scrolling through the recipes looking for something different that I hadn’t yet attempted to make and he came across this recipe for filete de res a la Chiapaneca, or Chiapas-style steak. It’s another recipe of Tía Carola’s and it came with minimal instructions as usual. I had to modify the recipe slightly because on the first taste test of the salsa, José said it didn’t taste quite right. But this version I’m sharing here is super sabroso and sure to delight the whole family…. 

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CHILAQUILES VERDES

Chilaquiles are a staple in my house – great for any meal: breakfast, lunch or dinner. When making them for breakfast, I serve an egg (fried or scrambled) on top; for lunch and dinner I usually add shredded chicken, but that can be left out if you’re serving it to a vegetarian. Whenever I go to a potluck dinner or any kind of event where I have to bring a dish, this is my tried and true recipe that always disappears quickly once served and the guests always end up calling me for the recipe the day after. And, ahem… chilaquiles are also known as the quintessential Mexican cure for a hangover.

Chilaquiles verdes #recipe from theothersideofthetortilla.com #mexicanfood #comidamexicana

This past weekend I made my famous chilaquiles verdes for my Salsa Showdown cooking show at the Kenmore Live Studio and they were a huge hit. The video of the show will be available soon, but I’ve already gotten dozens of requests to post the recipe! A lot of people from the audience came up to me after the show to say that they were impressed with not only the taste of the dish, but also how simple it was to prepare and that they felt confident they could make it at home. That’s always my goal here ­– to teach you recipes and break them down so you feel comfortable making them on your own. I hope you’ll try my chilaquiles, and if you do, please leave a comment below to let me know how you liked them!

One of the great things about the salsa verde for my chilaquiles is that it’s a very versatile salsa that can also be used for enchiladas as well as a few other dishes. Be sure to check back later this week for my recipe for enchiladas verdes…. 

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SALSA VERDE (Cooked and Raw)

Tomatillos GAL

tomatillos milperos

Salsas are the lifeblood of just about every Mexican dish. They can be cooked or raw, made in the blender or in a molcajete. Salsa can make or break any dish, add a special dimension of flavor or even make a dish edible (you wouldn’t eat chicharrón without cooking it in salsa to soften the dried meat).

The simple combination of tomatoes (jitomate or tomatillos/red or green), chiles (of any variety) and other ingredients like onion, garlic and spices is essential to many traditional dishes in Mexican cuisine. Salsa verde is certainly a staple in my house, whether it’s cooked and used for guisados like chicharrón en salsa verde, or raw salsa used for garnishing tacos.

You’ll notice this same cooked salsa recipe will be used over and over again in a number of dishes you’ll read about here and I’ll reference back to it often and sometimes modify it (for example, when making chilaquiles, I substitute fresh chicken stock in place of water).

In Mexico, we’ve eaten similar recipes to mine at many of our favorite restaurants, though some places use epazote in their cooked salsa (an ingredient I don’t use). In Chicago, we haven’t found a place that makes salsa verde the way we like it—or anywhere near it, really. Because of this, we sometimes order take out from our favorite Mexican restaurants and bring it home to eat it with our own homemade salsa.

Chile Serrano WEB

chiles serranos

 

Salsa verde (cooked)

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

25 minutes

Salsa verde (cooked)

How to make Mexican cooked green salsa.

Ingredients

  • A little over 1 pound of small (milpero) tomatillos, dehusked & thoroughly washed
  • 3-6 serrano chiles (depending how spicy you like it; start with less and add them to increase heat), stems cut off
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 1/4-inch slices of white onion
  • A big pinch of Kosher salt

Instructions

  1. First, remove the husks and wash the tomatillos well. You’ll notice they’re sticky, which is a sign of ripeness, and probably slightly dirty under the husk. Sometimes I find that warm water isn’t enough, and I use a few drops of dish soap diluted in a bowl of warm water. Then I put the husked tomatillos in the bowl and gently rub each one in the slightly soapy water to remove the dirt and sap. Rinse them well in cool water to remove any soap residue.
  2. Fill a pot with water (large enough to fit all the tomatillos) and bring to a boil. Put the tomatillos in and cook in the boiling water until the tomatillo flesh begins to get transparent.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatillos to a blender. Add the onion, garlic and salt.
  4. Cut the stems off the serrano chiles and cut each chile into a few pieces so they’re easily chopped in the blender. Start by adding 2 chiles to the blender with about ¾ of a cup of water and blend on high (liquify or puree) until smooth and the chiles and tomatillos are completely incorporated. Taste the salsa to see if it’s too hot; if it needs more chile, add them one at a time, blending & tasting the result until you are happy with the level of heat from the chiles.
  5. If it seems the salsa is not quite liquid enough, add another ¼ cup of water. The salsa will reduce slightly when cooked.
  6. Pour blender contents into a saucepan and heat over medium flame until the salsa boils, occasionally stirring. Remove from heat and allow to cool before storing in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Notes

Stores well in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for about 10 days.

http://theothersideofthetortilla.com/2009/08/salsa-verde/

Tip: for extra flavor with salsa verde cocida, you can also add 2 strips of chicharrón (with meat still attached) to season the salsa. You should add the chicharrón during the end stage when you cook the salsa until it boils for a few minutes, then remove from heat and allow to come to room temperature before storing to infuse the chicharrón flavor. This flavor infusion method only works with the cooked salsa.

Salsa verde cruda (raw green tomatillo salsa)

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Salsa verde cruda (raw green tomatillo salsa)

How to make Mexican salsa verde cruda (raw tomatillo green salsa)

Ingredients

  • A little over 1 pound of small (milpero) tomatillos, dehusked & thoroughly washed
  • 3-6 serrano chiles (depending how spicy you like it; start with less and add them to increase heat), stems cut off
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 1/4-inch slices of white onion
  • A big pinch of Kosher salt

Instructions

  1. First, remove the husks and wash the tomatillos well. You’ll notice they’re sticky, which is a sign of ripeness, and probably slightly dirty under the husk. Sometimes I find that warm water isn’t enough, and I use a few drops of dish soap diluted in a bowl of warm water. Then I put the husked tomatillos in the bowl and gently rub each one in the slightly soapy water to remove the dirt and sap. Rinse them well in cool water to remove any soap residue.
  2. Put the raw tomatillos directly into the blender with all other ingredients. Add the chiles to taste, starting with 2 and adding more if necessary. If it's too dry, add a few tablespoons of water to the ingredients and blend well until smooth.
  3. Serve immediately and store any leftovers in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Notes

Stores in an air-tight refrigerated container for up to 3 days.

http://theothersideofthetortilla.com/2009/08/salsa-verde/

  • What do you do differently in making your salsas verdes or where is your favorite place to eat a dish that includes salsa verde?
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