If you like flavor and spice, you came to the right place. This Charred Pepper and Tomatillo Enchilada Sauce will hit your palate all over and it’s not for the feint of heart. You’ve been warned!
Though I call this “enchilada sauce” it also works as great spicy topping for tacos or drizzled over a piece of grilled fish or chicken for a spicy, tangy pop! It all starts with peppers and tomatillos. You’ve probably seen tomatillos in the market, but may not have known what to do with them… Tomatillos, with their distinctive papery wrapper and tacky skin, are mild in flavor (needed to counteract the jalapeños) and create a perfect saucy consistency for this powerhouse condiment.
To char the tomatillos and jalapeño, line a heavy duty skillet with aluminum foil and put it over a medium high to high flame. The vegetables will start to soften and take on a sear and crust. That’s the flavor, friends!
The poblanos roast separately, directly over a flame. I have a gas cooktop and to char these peppers, I literally lay them over the flame and turn them every so often with a pair of tongs. They will bubble, hiss and blacken and when they look something like the photo above, remove them from the heat and slough off the char by rubbing it with your fingers — careful not to burn yourself. (You can also put them into a brown paper lunch bag and seal it up to rest for 10 minutes and then slough off the skins – sometimes it’s easier — but I’m impatient).
What deviates this sauce from classic salsa verde or even this charred one that we love, is the sautéed onions and garlic with smoky cumin. It creates a stronger flavor – almost like a green chermoula and it’s dynamite.
Transfer all the ingredients to the blender and process until smooth. The cilantro and lime juice keep this sauce fresh and vibrant, and the jalapeños really smack your tastebuds! I use the seeds and membrane of the jalapeños which is where most of the heat is. If you want a tamer version, remove them before charring.
This sauce will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator, so you can make this one day and make enchiladas later in the week.
Charred Pepper and Tomatillo Enchilada Sauce
- 1 pound tomatillo husked and halved
- 1 jalapeno pepper halved and seeded
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 large clove garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 poblano peppers
- 2 tablespoons water or more if necessary
- 1 lime juiced
- 1/4 cup cilantro
- Line a stainless steel skillet with foil (or use a disposable foil pan). Heat over high heat. Add the tomatillos and jalepeno to the pan and cook until charred and slightly softened, about 10 minutes -- tomatillos will be softer than jalapeño. Transfer the tomatillos and jalapeño to a blender.
- Char the poblano pepper on all sides, either in the same skillet lined with foil -- or if you have a gas stove top, rest the chile directly over the flame, until the skin blisters and chars. Turn the pepper occasionally until blackened. Remove from heat and let cool until you can handle it without burning your fingers. Slough off the blackened portion of the peppers. Slice the peppers in half, lengthwise and remove the seeds and stem. Transfer to the blender with tomatillos and jalapeños.
- In the skillet, heat one tablespoon of canola oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until softened and translucent, 3-4 minutes. Stir in the cumin, salt and pepper and cook for one minute longer. Transfer to the blender with the peppers and pulse to combine. Add the water, lime juice and cilantro and process until smooth. Adjust seasonings to your taste. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.
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