I recently made Green Chicken Enchiladas. I used some purchased green enchilada sauce but I wanted to try to develop a recipe myself instead. It’s always better when it’s homemade!
Identifying Chile Peppers
The primary pepper in this green enchilada sauce is the Poblano Pepper. It’s the large pepper shown in the image above and is about the size of a typical green bell pepper. It isn’t hugely spicy on the spice scale so any heat to your sauce will be added with the jalapeño.
To begin this recipe, you will roast your poblanos. I cut them in half and placed them on a sheet pan with parchment paper with skin side up. You can see the difference in size in the image above, with all the Poblanos being in front and the Jalapeños there in the back.
I’m not a fan of very spicy food so I used only two jalapeño peppers and I removed all of its seeds and membranes, which is where you’ll find most of that heat.
Once the roasted peppers are cooled about 10 minutes, you can remove the skin which will now look like a thin plastic film. It’s not really plastic, of course. You peel that off and discard.
If you prefer more spice, try using a different pepper until you get the taste you like. Anaheims are popular without a tremendous amount of heat. For more heat, serranos and, of course, habaneros are popular. Chipotle and ghost peppers are showing up a lot. Ghost peppers, wow! I don’t even want to think about it.
My mom has taught me to appreciate the taste of the sauce rather than it having so much heat that all you feel is the heat, but I know people have different levels of pepper heat resistance. Mine is just really low. ha!
What are Tomatillos?
Tomatillos are small fruits that are covered with a papery husk. That may sound strange at first, but hey, corn is also in a husk and there’s no problem there, right?! Once you peel off the husk, clean off the sticky residue from the fruit before you use it in your recipes. It looks just like a baby green tomato, but it’s not really a tomato.
A tomatillo, just like a tomato, can be eaten raw, chopped in a salad. You can roast them too. Be aware that it will pretty much disintegrate when you roast them so don’t try it on a cookie sheet without raised sides. They could burst and run over into your oven. I didn’t roast them for this recipe, but you could. Just be very careful not to make a mess when you’re transferring from sheet pan to the stock pot.
The tomatillo is a little tart, but not spicy like a pepper. It’s kind of a citrus-y sort of tart. Cooking it gives it a more mellow taste and roasting will bring out the sweet tones through caramelization.
Canning for Shelf Stability
I didn’t preserve these jars of sauce, but you can, if you like. I ended up with three pints and I just put them in the freezer. But, if you want to can them, be sure to use a pressure canner and can them at 10 pounds of pressure for 55 minutes, or according to your manufacturer’s instructions.
Green Enchilada Sauce with Roasted Chiles and Tomatillos
- Large Sheet Pan
- Parchment Paper
- Stock Pot
- Immersion Blender or Standing Blender
- Cooking Spray
- 2 pounds Poblano Peppers about 7 or 8
- 2 Jalapeño pepper
- 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 pound Tomatillo about 8 or 9
- 1 large Onion chopped
- 1 whole Garlic Bulb minced
- 3 cups Water
- 1 teaspoon Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- Juice of One Lime
- 1/4 cup Cilantro chopped
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- Wash and dry all peppers. Cut in half lengthwise. Remove stems, seeds and membranes.
- Place parchment paper on large sheet pan and spray with cooking spray.
- Place peppers with skin side up and place in preheated oven. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes until it looks like the skin is charred.
- Remove from oven, place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 10 minutes. Let them cool a little bit more if they're still too warm to the touch.
- Carefully remove the thin plastic-y looking skin and chop the peppers.
- Remove husks from tomatillos and wash to remove the sticky residue. Dry then chop.
- In a stock pot, over medium heat, add olive oil, onions, garlic, chopped peppers and chopped tomatillo.
- Cook until onions are a little transparent and fragrant, about 10 minutes.
- Add water, cumin and salt. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, until tomatillos are completely soft.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Add lime juice and chopped cilantro. Stir well.
- Using an immersion blender, blend well. If using a standing blender, blend about a pint at a time. Makes 3 pints.
- If you would like to can (preserve) for shelf stability, use a pressure canner at 10 pounds pressure for 55 minutes, or according to manufacturer's instructions.