You know when you go to the taqueria and they have those innocent little salsa buffets and you end up hording sauce in a soda cup, like it's one of those free for alls? Like when my mom asks me to fill 6 six little tubs of pico de gallo because she eats them like appetizers?
Yeah. You horde them too, especially the green sauce.
I should've just stopped by my local taqueria to swipe some salsa for my less than blog-able "south of the border" crab cakes, but I bought tomatillos instead, determined to make my own sauce. I didn't have a vision or even a direction for this salsa and it ended up a little tart and a lot in excess. The meal itself was ok, but forgettable. The only thing that bothered my very core was this salsa failure, this flat ode to the tomatillo.
What do equestrians do when they fall of the horse? Get right back on it! With some time and a bit of onion, I coaxed these tart flavors into something brewed and bold: Short Rib Chile Verde.
The brewing liquid, salsa verde, is made out of a tart tomatillo, commonly misunderstood as an underripe tomato. That it is not. It comes encased in a husk and is more related to the gooseberry and the schnozberry than it is the actual tomato itself.
Under its husk, there pops a green egg. You can feel the flavor with your fingers.
Cut open, they are firmer than tomatoes inside, with less variation between peel and stock.
In salsa, tomatillos are either raw or roasted, for a bit of sweetness. In past experiments I have enjoyed both sweetness and tartness. I used both for the recipe because I am indecisive.
SHORT RIB CHILE VERDE (Serves 4)
SUMMARY: You will be braising meats. That means that this is more or less a one pot meal. Brown the meats. Get the vegis started and then blend them up. Throw everything back intothe pot and braise away. Meats that are a bit tough from the get go take 3 hrs at least. Nobody likes a chewy short rib, so if you don't have time, go for chicken thighs, skin on.
WARE: A blender for your sauce. A large pot for the braise. Tongs help too.
TOTAL TIME: 4-5 hours; Active time 1 hr 30 minutes
- 1.5 lb short ribs, cut into 2 inch chunks- 1/4 c flour- 1.5 lb tomatillos- half onion, chopped- 1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped- 1 serrano pepper, finely minced- 1 ancho chile pepper, chopped- 2 green onion stalks, chopped- 2-3 garlic cloves, sliced- 1 16 oz can of chicken broth- 2 T oil- 3/4 c cilantro, chopped- 1 bay leaf
1. Heat the broiler and broil half or all of the tomatillos 4-5 inches away from the flame for 4-5 minute son each side. Broiling matures the tart into tangy. If you want to sweeten up the dish, roast all. The tomatillos should be slightly browned, olivey and soft. Cool them afterwards.
I don't like the peel because I think it is noticeably distracting, so I peeled away the skin. It is a preference, of mine. Feel free to leave them on.
2. While the tomatillos are broiling, chop the onions, garlic, peppers, green onions and set aside.
3. Finally, for the meat. Rinse, dry with a paper towel and salt & pepper on each side. I admit to using boneless short ribs, because I was in a penny pinching mood, but go for bone-in short ribs, please!
4. Pour flour onto a plate and quickly dredge (coat) the meat on all sides, shaking off excess flour.
5. In a 3-4 quart pot, heat oil on high. Place the meat in the pot and let it sizzle away. If all the pieces do not fit in one layer, do two rounds.
**You are BROWNING the meat not COOKING it. The meat will cook later. You are sealing the outside of the meat, with little care in the world for what interior looks like. This way, liquid on the inside can't escape, producing a juicier product. Once the meat comes into contact with the pot, don't move it around or you will disurb the crust formation. 3-4 minutes on the first side and flip to another. If the meat sticks, brown it some more. Subsequent sides might take short.
6. Once the meat is browned, remove it from the pot, and add your vegis. Saute with a little added oil and salt if needed, med-high, 3-5 minutes.
7. Transfer your vegis to a blender. Add cilantro and tomatillos, roasted or not, and blend until smooth. If you prefer a little chunk, blend less. If you see to much skin, strain. Transfer back to the pot, along with the chicken broth and the bay leaf.
8. Add in meat. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 3 hours.
So much better than crab cakes... Serve with rice or corn tortillas or some type of starch. The beauty in these stewing meats is that they get better with age. A fine wine they are. Leftovers are damn good!
**My friend Keith made this in his crock pot. Cooked it on high for 4 hours. He said that they were delicious although the sauce was a bite runnier than he expected. So for a crock pot, count on not all the water reducing, so try and put less chicken broth in. If it is runny, you can always transfer it into a pot and boil it down a bit. Thanks Keith!**