Saturday, June 13, 2009

What Chuck and I Made for Dinner: June 13, 2009

Fish tacos, yellow rice with chickpeas, tomatillo salsa.

Our first year out of law school, Chuck clerked for a judge. That was a fantastic year. We made friends with all his co-clerks and the clerks for the other judges on the floor. We had dinners together, a couple of weekends away, a particularly fun Oscars party, if memory serves--a good time was had by all. At one dinner party, Chuck's co-clerk, Brian, made this insanely good salsa.

This salsa makes us nostalgic. It also makes us sweat--it is spicy! It's so good that the first year we had a vegetable garden, we planted tomatillos so we'd have a ready supply. They went crazy and took over the garden, and I'm not kidding. It's easier to buy them.

Where did Brian learn to make salsa like this? I have no idea and he wouldn't tell. But he was generous enough to share the recipe, which we still have on his law firm stationery. ("Memorandum: How to Make Salsa.") And now I am generous enough to share it with you.

Tomatillo salsa de arbol
2 t. vegetable oil
6 dried chiles de arbol, stemmed and crumbled
4 garlic cloves, diced
1/3 c. diced onion
2 lbs. tomatillos, cored

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add chiles and garlic and cook, stirring, 1-2 minutes, until toasted. Transfer to a food processor; add onion and tomatillos. Process to blend. Makes 2 to 3 cups.


  1. Are the dried chiles readily available in our neck 'o the woods? I'm lazy and asking instead of looking...

  2. Yes! Most supermarkets carry Melissa's brand dried peppers in the produce section. (I've also noticed that Wal-Mart has a top-notch selection of Mexican foods, so it probably carries them too.)

  3. In my country a similar salsa is called "Solterito" which means Bachelor. Mainly used with a dish named silpancho which recipe is in the link below.

    Note that the recipe is not completely accurate for the presentation and the preparation of the meat, I will suggest to use the following instructions for that:


    Place the pieces of meat into a Ziploc bag along with a cup or two of bread crumbs.
    Shake the bag and then proceed to gently pound each side of the bag with your fists. (1 centimeter thick each) Thin but sufficient to cover the plate.

    Place the rice equally on each plate. Put a potato in the middle
    Place meat, and vegetables on top of rice.

    This is a photo of the silpancho: