Salsa Verde Update

Not sure if this would still be considered salsa verde, but here is what I did:

couple pounds of tomatillos
two onions
dozen or so serrano peppers
couple habaneros
couple cloves of garlic
a metric ton of cilantro
some kosher salt
a couple limes

I took out the cast iron skillet, as suggested in the comments, and slow roasted the peppers, the garlic, the tomatillos, and the onions. I browned them a little bit more than all the online guides said to, but I was hoping that would make it a little smokier. I then seeded the peppers, peeled the garlic, and threw it all in the food processor. I then squeezed a couple limes, added some salt, and then when it tasted a little empty, added a teaspoon of sugar to round it out a touch.

It turned out to taste pretty damned good, with a smokier and hotter taste than the salsa verde I am used to buying at the store. I am not sure if I like the habanero taste in this, but it did heat it up a little bit. I added the habanero because I am a firm believer that if I am not sweating and have to blow my nose after a couple bites of something, it is not hot enough, but I am not sure if that was the right pepper to add. Don’t get me wrong- it is good. But I am not sure if it is as good as it could be. Can’t wait for my chicken breasts to stop marinating, and then it is game on.

So what did I do wrong, or what should I do differently next time?

69 replies
  1. 1
    ploeg says:

    Should have gone with the short ton of cilantro.

  2. 2
    Laura W says:

    Boiled kale.

  3. 3
    Thoughtcrime says:

    Tormenta Mierda Update:

    Josh Marshall reports (from WSJ) that the AIG bonuses are actually more like $1.2 billion, with $450 million going to the London based financial products unit that caused the shit storm.


  4. 4
    John Cole says:

    @Laura W: Kale? What on earth are you talking about?

  5. 5
    Comrade Mary, Would-Be Minion Of Bad Horse says:

    a metric ton of cilantro

    Marry me.

  6. 6
    bootlegger says:

    As much as I enjoy chili-spicy foods, habeneros always kill the flavor of the dish for me. It’s not even the absolute heat so much as the fact that it completely overwhelms the palate.

  7. 7
    Krista says:

    a metric ton of cilantro

    Marry me.


    Dammit, now I’m craving fresh salsa. I have really got to stay away from the recipe threads until this pregnancy is over.

    edit: goddammit, John, the blockquote-within-blockquote no longer works. WTF?

  8. 8
    JimPortlandOR says:

    may i suggest a bushel and a peck of nice frozen toilet paper for later?

    respect both ends of your nutritional system!

  9. 9
    Anoniminous says:

    Habeneros make everything, including rusty nails, taste like habeneros. Fine, but boring after a while.

    My favorite pepper-er-up-er is Mc Ilhenny tabasco sauce: red peppers in vinegar. The advantage is the ability for each diner to increase the hotness to their taste at the table.

    Caveat: I grew up in Louisiana where Mc Ilhenny tabasco sauce is more commonly used than ketchup.

  10. 10
    Comrade Kevin says:

    Sounds like a good salsa verde to me.

  11. 11
    cleek says:

    a metric ton of cilantro

    i made a pretty fine cilantro risotto last week : basic risotto (white wine and chick stock) but with a cup (-ish) of chopped cilantro, a bit of shallot and just the tiniest pinch of generic "curry" powder. came out tasting somewhere between mexican and indian.

    it was a great with the cilantro-citrus salsa i poured over the pan-fried flounder.

    cilantro-citrus salsa = flesh of one blood orange chopped, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, 1 tbsp chopped shallot, juice of 1/2 lime, 1 tsp olive oil, 1-tsp rice win vinegar, splash of OJ, shake of red pepper flakes. let it sit for a couple of hours, covered.

  12. 12
    AhabTRuler says:

    As someone remarked in the other thread, try adding a Chipotle or two.
    I tend to get a bunch of dried peppers, reconstitute with warm (not boiling, remember Chicago ’68) water, puree in a blender with maybe 1 chipotle in ancho sauce, next force it through a sieve, and then add to whatever you want.

  13. 13
    GReynoldsCT00 says:

    As my mom would say, you’d better be sure and have ice cream for dessert…

  14. 14
    Marshall says:

    I’d personally only process about half of it just because I like textural difference.

    Cut down on the Habanero’s and increase the serrano’s. That should give you the heat without overloading the flavor.

    Add a little bit of cumin. Not enough to tell that there is cumin in there but it warms up the flavor a tad.

    Instead of slow roasting the the peppers, and this may just be me, I like to broil them until they are black on the outside. You peal off some of the black but it gives you the smoke flavor in less time.

  15. 15
    AhabTRuler says:

    I also tend to put my habaneros in the mini-chopper with the garlic and the jalapenos, and then go all Fantasia on their asses.
    I always figure that these are the things that you want to spread the most evenly throughout.

    As for Cilantro, it has its place, but damn if it don’t get overused these days.

  16. 16

    The great koan of our time: do chicken breasts ever stop marinating? Or do they just..keep marinating?

  17. 17

    I you want great taste and a smoky flavor add a few chipotles (smoke dried jalapeno peppers).

    Sometimes I even use ’em in my wine sauce reductions, they put a nice smoky kick to any thing.

  18. 18
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    I made home made salsa once, and I mean home made, tomatoes, green peppers, onions and cilantro from my garden. I was so excited because I had planned on doing just that the entire growing season. IT WAS ABSOLUTELY AND UTTERLY VILE. I am not sure what I did wrong but it tasted like vomit. I threw it away and have not tried since. I think it may have been the cilantro, because it did not look like the cilantro that I was used to buying at the grocery store, but swear to the FSM the plants I bought said cilantro on the label.

  19. 19
    kormgar says:

    Well the serrano peppers are a solid choice for chile verde. For flavor, I’d recommend fire roasting, peeling, and then pureeing some fresh Anaheim peppers. They won’t add any heat, but you’ve got that covered with the serranos and habaneros.

    A tasty alternative to habaneros are thai chiles. They look a lot like serranos, but are a hell of a lot hotter.

    Another trick for changing up salsa is to very lightly carmelize the garlic and onion. Don’t overdo it, either quickly toss it in a frying pan until the onions clarify slightly or nuke it for 20 seconds or so.

    The more you cook the garlic and onions, the sweeter they’ll taste, so play around with different cooking times.

  20. 20
    AhabTRuler says:

    I am not sure what I did wrong but it tasted like vomit.

    That is an…unfortunate…outcome for any recipe.

  21. 21
    Laura W says:

    @John Cole: Christ, John. Nearly every comment I’ve made in the last 24 hours involves boiled kale.
    If you don’t read my comments, I can’t be blamed for the huge gaps in your knowledge.

  22. 22
    DougJ says:

    Habaneros are a mistake here. I’d go with jalapenos and maybe even some anaheims to add a lot of chile flavor without adding too much heat.

  23. 23
    Rosali says:

    I am a firm believer that if I am not sweating and have to blow my nose after a couple bites of something, it is not hot enough

    Just like me. I’m happy when it makes me cry.

  24. 24
    passerby says:

    …I am a firm believer that if I am not sweating and have to blow my nose after a couple bites of something, it is not hot enough…

    Hear hear!

    Just got back from the grocery with a fresh bunch of cilantro, a handfull of habaneros and some tomatoes.

    Sounds like you made a winning batch. I’ve found recipes that recommend a splash of olive oil. My guess is that it helps disperse the pepper hotness (capsaicin is fat soluble).

    Bon appetite!

    p.s. And that whole thing about it being better if you let it sit overnight is true, but after spending all that time preparing a salsa, who can wait?

    p.p.s. Doh! I don’t have a lime.

  25. 25
    vivelame says:

    The only good question is, Mr Cole, if you could go back in time, would you shoot Reagan?

  26. 26
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    As for the sweating and blowing the nose rule that usually applies to me when I make a curry. I am not one of those "blow your head off" types but I do like a nice chicken curry to make me sweat and blow my nose. (as for hotter leave me out, and yes it has something to do with it going out rather than it going in :))

  27. 27
    Comrade Mary, Would-Be Minion Of Bad Horse says:

    Just for you, Litlebritdifrnt.

  28. 28

    Sounds nice. Sounds hot. I would add some acid though, either lemon or lime juice. How’s the salt?

  29. 29
    Svensker says:

    So what should I do differently next time?

    Bring it on over to me.

    Littlebrit — bet you got something that wasn’t really cilantro. There are a few similar things — maybe it was culantro?
    Salsa made with absolutely fresh from the garden tomatoes, chilis, onions, just has to be good.

    I don’t mind a bit of smoky flavor in salsa from grilling the skins off the vegetables, but I hate it when everything is overwhelmed by the smoke flavor. The hub and I fight about this.

  30. 30
    Comrade Darkness says:

    I find roasting peppers works best under the broiler. Keep a close watch though, and turn them once. And then seal them in a plastic bag to make them sweat off the black stuff. When they cool, it’s easy to rub the ash off under cold water. Smokey tasting and less carbon in the food.

    Did you use ripe habeneros? (orange ones) They are sweeter than the green ones. But this is a pretty acidic dish. I wonder if roasted red, yellow or orange bell peppers might have sweetened things to counter that given that the roasting converts things into simpler sugars and you could use more mass of it without making it inedibly hot.

    Mayan onions instead of cooking onions would sweeten things too. In the case of using a sweet onion, I would roast one and put the other in raw for diversity.

    There is a world of peppers out there, for sure. Depends on your supermarket options. Poblanos and Anaheims are widely available but not terribly hot. Might work here.

  31. 31
    D-Chance. says:

    Time for the Dance.

    UNC loses in the conference tourney, #1 seed.
    UConn loses in the conference tourney, #1 seed.
    Pitt loses in the conference tourney, #1 seed.

    Memphis dominates and finished 31-3… not a #1 seed.

    And congratulations to the Michigan Wolverines. Finishing 9-9 in conference, 1-1 in the tourney, and finishing 20-13 on the season with big wins over Michigan Tech, Norfolk St, Savannah St, Florida Gulf Coast, and North Carolina Central… impressive that a mediocre .500 team (at best) gets in while a 26-6 St Mary’s is left out.

  32. 32
    Litlebritdifrnt says:


    Don’t know what it was but it tasted almost like mold? Or for want of a better word fustiness? It definitely wasn’t the cilantro taste that I had been used to and I know the mold/fustiness taste was not from any of the fresh veggies from the garden.

  33. 33
    Lavocat says:

    They actually have a recipe for vomit!?


  34. 34
    AhabTRuler says:

    They actually have a recipe for vomit!?

    Yeah, but ya gotta pay 300 bucks to eat it out of a pail at some upscale restaurant.

  35. 35
    Svensker says:


    Don’t know what it was but it tasted almost like mold?

    Mold is not good. Maybe next time taste the cilantro before you buy?

  36. 36
    Emily says:

    If you want heat without the habanero flavor, just use only serranos or other hot green chiles and then don’t seed them.

    You can also save one or two chiles to put in raw during blending. They’ll be hotter and contribute that fresh green flavor.

    This recipe looks pretty great as it is, though.

  37. 37
    cliff says:

    I’d sub a few of the haba’s for a few thai chillies

    they are easy to grow as well … as long as you keep them warm and sunny enough.

  38. 38
    thrashbluegrass says:

    what should I do differently next time?

    The same thing you should do with every dish: add more bacon.

  39. 39
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    Billy Connelly has an absolutely hilarious take on vomit, it almost always includes diced carrots and tomato skins, whereby he is sure he has never eaten diced carrots and tomato skins, he believes there is a conspiracy whereby men with pockets full of diced carrots and tomato skins walk around following drunk people who throw up and throw handfuls of diced carrots and tomato skins into the vomit of a drunk person. Okay I suppose you have to see the joke to get it….l.

  40. 40
    AC says:

    About to make some burritos with a metric ton of cilantro of my own. Love it.

  41. 41
    de Selby says:

    If you have any friends in Mexico or South Texas, bribe them to send you some chiles pequins to use instead of those habaneros.

    They are tiny li’l fellers, about the size of peas, but both the red and the green ones have a beautiful flavor (though I prefer them green), and they are the apotheosis of the clean, strong "slow burn".

    Really. They’re something special.

  42. 42
    John Cole says:

    Actual phone conversation with my father just ten minutes ago:

    Me: I made some homemade salsa verde, and it was really good, but hot. I touched my forehead and it got in my eye somehow.

    Dad: You have to be careful with those peppers. You don’t want to get them on your genitals, either.

    Me: Just what the hell is going on in your kitchen?

  43. 43
    Comrade Darkness says:


    I am shocked, SHOCKED, to find that money is involved in sports.

  44. 44
    AhabTRuler says:

    @John Cole: Apparantly this:

    I once crumbled dried red peppers into a spaghetti sauce –
    then ran upstairs and performed an emergency tampax change –
    WITHOUT washing my hands first.

    happened to your father at some point, at he is just passing on the acquired knowledge. Like a good father would.

  45. 45
    Danton says:

    The advice I got from a local immigrant family from Mexico: simplify! Just use fresh tomatillas, a white onion, serrano peppers, and lots of cilantro for salsa verde. Peel and cook the tomatillas then add minced white onion and seeded, diced seranno. Add the cilantro last.

    I learned how to make pinto beans, too. Clean, rinse, and soak the beans overnight with a yellow onion cut in half. Cook all day on low until they’re soft. If you must add water, add boiling water. After the beans are soft and falling apart, remove the onion and add sea salt and cumin. If the cumin has been sitting on the shelf for anything over three months, throw it out. It’s lost a good deal of flavor.

  46. 46
    Comrade Stuck says:

    The Sex and Salsa thread. No where else on the tubes, I swear. Add a little Pastrami, and Castanza Dip is born.

  47. 47
    James K Polk, Esq. says:

    Looks like the jam… Just wait till you get it in your chicken…

    If it were me, I would braise something in a mixture of that and beer…

    Mmmmm, piggy.

    As for doing it differently next time, maybe you could use a greater number of less spicy chiles? What about Anaheims, maybe 3-4 of ’em…

    Didja pop the tomatillos in the cast iron, or did they stay intact?

  48. 48
    jetan says:

    I’m with Danton and his immigrant friends….his recipe sounds perfectly fine to me. Though yours can’t have gone too far wrong either. Better send me a jar just so I can be sure.

    Serranos are hot enough for most folks and too much heat is the enemy of flavor, just as alcohol can be the enemy of flavor (big shout-out to all of the homebrewers out there who taught me that and what to do about it)

  49. 49
    mextremist says:

    so, once you get tired with the salsa youve made, and since you did a lot, an easy dish is to blend it with avocado and crema or sour cream, and use it as enchilada sauce, with melted cheese on top. these are called enchiladas suizas, or swiss enchiladas, for some reason. the tartness of the tomatillo and heat from the chiles will temper and smooth out with the avocado’s creaminess…

    joder, ya me dio un chingo de hambre…

  50. 50
    HRA says:

    Great no fuss or much cleanup is to roast peppers on the grill.

  51. 51
    Keith says:

    The great koan of our time: do chicken breasts ever stop marinating? Or do they just..keep marinating?

    Sure, they start cooking after a while. A marinade should contain an oil and an acid. The oil should go on first to protect the meat, but the acid will eventually denature the proteins (like ceviche); the more delicate the protein, the faster it goes. I never marinate chicken more than 24 hours myself, as the denaturing toughens it (unless you want to get more sophisticated with your chemistry, like adding papayas to the marinade). Fish is the most delicate, and beef is among the toughest (I’ve never seen tougher than goat meat, though). The rule of thumb also works towards cooking times, BTW.

  52. 52
    JoyousMN says:


    If you’ve got time, roast the veggies over coals out on the grill. It adds a wonderful smokey flavor. If you don’t have the time (or energy) then I second the chipotle recommendation.

  53. 53
    BethanyAnne says:

    Sounds like it was a good cooking night all around. I made the "Curried Lentils with Sweet Potatoes and Chard" that Emily Thorson posted about here. It was yummy, and I have 2 meals worth of it in the fridge. I didn’t realize how sweet it would be. Happy full. Cheap low fat food that’s good. Mmmm.

  54. 54
    Comrade Darkness says:

    @AhabTRuler, that is actually my recipe for homemade rehydration fluid.

    Sugar and lemon to make lemonade, then salt until it tastes like vomit.

  55. 55
    hoosierspud says:


    Your dad’s comment about the hot peppers reminded of a comment from my best friend. He said that when he was a cook at a Mexican restaurant he learned to wash his hands before he went to the bath room.

  56. 56
    AhabTRuler says:

    @Comrade Darkness: Yes, but if you could make it not taste like vomit, that’d be a plus, right? Right?
    So it is still unfortunate that your useful recipe results in a taste of vomit (tasting much less sweeter than wiiiiiiine).

  57. 57
    Bill H says:

    I’m with a couple of others here; chilis and a skillet is just… wrong. Open flame, please. Broiler is fine, I use a charcoal grill. They need some black on them.

  58. 58
    clussman says:

    Toss the habeneros, like others said they overwhelm the flavor, and not in a good way. You wouldn’t have even needed them if you hadn’t seeded your peppers. Bad John Cole. No biscuit.

  59. 59
    iamhbomb says:

    @Comrade Darkness: The way I like to roast peppers is a pair of tongs and a small propane torch, like you get at a hardware store (these are intended for use in soldering copper plumbing). You can direct the flame into the crevices (if there are any) and generally do a better job of completely covering the pepper with heat. Cooking supply places (like Sur la Table) sell a torch for doing stuff like this and bruleeing but the hardware store version is far cheaper and you can get the propane cylinders at any hardware store instead of having to go to the other expensive place. John, I agree with everyone who said ease up on the habaneros and add more mildly flavored but still warm chilies. I think habaneros can overpower many dishes. I’m a fan of chipotles but I’m not sure that the smokiness is what I’d want in a salsa verde like this.

  60. 60
    garyb50 says:

    After all those comments, you used no cumin? That’s just sad.

  61. 61
    Steve in Sacto says:


    For flavor, I’d recommend fire roasting, peeling, and then pureeing some fresh Anaheim peppers. They won’t add any heat, but you’ve got that covered with the serranos…

    Yes, add some fire-roasted Anaheims and Poblanos. This will add a depth and complexity of flavors. Drop the Habaneros, add some Jalapenos and let the Serranos bring the right amount of heat to be present without overwhelming the flavor, which is the essence of a good chili verde.

  62. 62
    Bill Belichick says:

    Ditch those habs. The heat comes from the seeds and the white placenta part of a pepper, so just leave more of that from the serranos and heat you’ll have w/o the overbearing hab taste.

  63. 63
    Hedley Lamarr says:

    If you intend to use that food processor again for, say, mixing up a cake, you might want to go medieval with the bleach on it first.

  64. 64

    Try red habaneros next time. Less insanely hot, all the flavor. And never throw out the seeds if you want to sweat.

    But be careful. I had to evacuate my home once due to fumes from habaneros frying on the stove!

  65. 65
    Joy says:

    I roast poblano peppers and the tomatillos in the oven. It gives it a good, smoky taste.

  66. 66
    Kirk Spencer says:

    @Mark Gisleson:

    I had to evacuate my home once due to fumes from habaneros frying on the stove!

    Pepper Spray – the defensive spray of choice for pros – is oleo-capsaicin that is aerosoled and directed. Frying chiles will create a [fat]-capsaicin, and the ‘spitting’ and steam will aerosol it. You are getting a cloud instead of a spray, but otherwise it’s pretty close to the same thing.

    I’m not surprised you had to evacuate. I AM surprised you didn’t have to clean furniture, clothes, and anything else on which the stuff settled.

  67. 67

    I mentioned the idea of Thais in the previous thread. I did worry that the Habanero flavor would be offputting, and unfortunately, it was.

    Different chilies next time, John! Thais and Scotch Bonnets. Keep the Serranos, though. You also might want to try layering multiple kinds of chilies for a spectrum of flavors.

    Say. Serranos, Thais, and Anchos, for example.

  68. 68
    Leisureguy says:

    I would have also included some chipotles in adobo sauce or dried chipotles (perhaps chopped up). That should provide some smoky heat. And, of course, there’s always liquid smoke—I normally put a couple of dashes of that in chili when I make it.

  69. 69
    Conrads Ghost says:

    My extensive restaurant experience w/ verde is it’s almost always a little ‘thin’ in flavor and umami. Agree w/ fire roastin’ the chiles (poblanos best); do it over an open flame – stove top gas burners are perfect. Same w/ tomatillos, except in a dry skillet – medium blacken the skins. Don’t be fastidious w/ the peeling, either one. Add some oil – I’ve used sesame (light touch) and it’s very nice; also, toasted sesame seeds are traditional. If you got it chicken stock adds depth.

    On another level, verde in my opinion is best used to braise fatty meats like pork butt, as in guisada de puerco. The astringent acidity of verde marries perfectly w/ (pork) fat, as interior Mexican cooks have known for centuries.

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