This recipe for Homemade Fresh Green Enchilada Sauce is so easy to make you will not need to buy canned ones again. The sauce freezes beautifully so make a large batch and freeze some for later use.
Commercially prepared canned green enchilada sauce is generally pretty watery and lacking in rich chili flavor.
That, coupled with the added ingredients used that I don't need in my diet, corn starch, sugars, be it corn syrup or cane, MSG, maltodextrin (what is that?), and added yeasts, I thought it might be time to find one that was homemade without these added ingredients.
I use green enchilada sauce a lot. I use it to make my Low-Fat Crab Enchiladas. I use it in my Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Stack and I use it for my Hatch Chile Green Chicken Enchiladas.
So I went to the internet thinking I would find a great homemade version of fresh green enchilada sauce.
I would think so, but I would be wrong.
I found recipes that used a lot of tomatillos, but hardly any chilies.
I found recipes that used a lot of chilies, but very little tomatillo.
I found recipes that used GREEN BELL pepper - just say NO.
I wanted an authentic-tasting fresh green sauce, that was smooth and spicy. So I went into the kitchen and made it up.
Ingredients Needed to make Fresh Green Enchilada Sauce
- Chile Peppers - a variety is best. I used Anaheim, (also known as California) Poblano, and Jalapeno peppers
- Onion - For best results use white onion. White onions are more acidic than their yellow or sweet onion relatives
- Spices - Cumin, oregano, salt, pepper
- Oil - I like to use avocado oil in this recipe
See the recipe card for quantities.
First of all, tomatillos aren’t baby green tomatoes.
These little fruits are a member of the nightshade family just like tomatoes and cucumbers. Tomatillos are native to and grown mainly in Mexico, but have been adopted by American farmers due to their resistance to disease.
Tomatillos, sometimes called husk tomatoes, look like green, unripe tomatoes with a dry, leafy husk that wraps around the outside. The color of the fruit is a beautiful bright green, which fades a bit once you cook them
Tomatillos have a slightly more acidic, slightly less sweet flavor than ripe and unripe tomatoes. Overall, the flavor is more vegetal and bright, and the interior texture is denser and less watery.
Prepping a tomatillo is pretty straightforward. The husks can be easily removed with your hands and discarded. You’ll notice a sticky film on the surface, which will come off with a quick rinse under warm water.
Char your Anaheim and Poblano peppers, when cool, remove the stem, skin, and seeds. Chop into pieces.
Chop the Jalapeno, garlic, tomatillos (papery skin removed), and onion.
Heat a small amount of oil and saute the raw vegetables over medium-low heat until soft.
Simmer the peppers until very tender about 15 minutes. Allow to sit for 10 - 15 minutes to cool.
Once the vegetables are soft, add the roasted peppers along with the water, cumin, oregano, and some salt and pepper.
Using caution, blend, in batches as necessary, until you have a smooth sauce.
My KitchenAid blender does a fine job of making a smooth sauce. If your blender is not as powerful, you may want to pass the blended sauce through a sieve or food mill to achieve a smooth sauce.
- Make it Spicier- Adjust the spice by adjusting the peppers. Leaving the membranes and seeds in the Jalapeno adds heat. You could also add a Serrano or two.
- Use Hatch Chilies in place of Anaheim -Hatch chilies, native to the Hatch region of New Mexico, have a flavor that is close to, but hotter than, an Anaheim (California) chile.
- Omit the Poblano - I think the poblano chilies add a depth of flavor, but you could make this Fresh Green Enchilada sauce with just Hatch or Anaheim chilies.
Video Hatch Chile Green Chicken Enchiladas
The easiest way to roast chilies is under the broiler in your oven. I take a heavy-duty sheet of aluminum foil and place that on the rack in the uppermost part of my oven, closest to the broiler, and just lay the peppers on it. The gaps in the racks help keep the pepper in place as I turn them, occasionally, to get all sides well charred. It will take about 15 minutes to get all sides properly charred.
After they are roasted, put them in a bowl and cover them with the same foil you used to lay on the racks. Let them steam, and cool, for at least 15 minutes before removing the skin and seeds.
You can also roast them over an open flame, such as a gas stove burner or BBQ grill.
NO. Never rinse your peppers after roasting, the water just removes that wonderful roasted taste. A few seeds and a little remaining skin won't hurt anything in the end.
You could if you want. I don't as most of what I'm using it on already has cilantro in it and too much cilantro can be, well, too much cilantro.
The main difference is that Green Enchilada sauce is cooked, and Salsa Verde is raw.
Yes. You can easily make the sauce thicker or thinner. To make it thicker you can sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of flour over the vegetables when they are almost cooked. Allow that to cook for a few minutes, then add your roasted peppers, water, etc.
To make it thinner, add more water. You may want to adjust your seasonings if you add more water to add more of them as well.
Other than a good chef's knife and a deep saucepan, you will need some of these other pieces of equipment:
A blender - a heavy-duty blender is best, but any blender, including a immersion blender, will work to get the sauce to a saucy consistency. If the sauce is not smooth enough, you can put it through a strainer to remove any chunks.
If you don't have a blender you could use a food mill to process the solids.
Store the enchilada sauce in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week, freeze for a longer period. Thaw in the refrigerator when ready to use, or on a low setting of your microwave.
When choosing your peppers, try to keep them about the same size for easier and more even roasting.
Choose tomatillos that are covered in papery skin, and not exposed. The tomatillo should be firm, green, and without blemishes.
- Use caution when blending hot liquids. Do not fill more than halfway and always cover your blender lid with a folded towel to ensure the hot liquids do not explode out. Blend in batches if necessary.
- Wash hands well after dicing the Jalapeno peppers. Touch the tip of your fingers to your gums, if you feel the heat, wash those hands again.
- Never leave cooking food unattended
See more guidelines at USDA.gov.
Fresh Green Enchilada Sauce
- 1 pound Anaheim, California, or Hatch Chiles fresh
- ½ pound Poblano chilies
- 1 pound tomatillos papery husk removed, washed
- 1 ½ cups white onion diced
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh garlic about 8 cloves
- 2 - 3 jalapeno peppers seeded and diced
- 1 tablespoon oil I like to use avocado oil here
- t tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 2 cups water
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Position your oven rack to the highest position in your oven and set it for broil. (Or if your oven has a separate broiler, set it for broil). Place a piece of foil on the rack and place the Aneheim and poblano peppers between the grates on the oven rack, broil until well charred on all sides, turning with tongs as necessary.Remove the peppers to a bowl; place the foil over the top and allow them to steam for 15 minutes. When cool enough to handle remove the stems, skins, and seeds. Roughly chop. Set aside.
- Remove the papery covering from the tomatillos and wash quickly in warm water to remove the stickiness. Dice.Dice the onion. Mince the garlic. Chop the Jalapeno removing seeds and membranes if a milder sauce is desired, leaving some on for heat, if desired.
- Heat the oil in a deep saucepan. Add the onions, garlic, jalapeno, and tomatillo. Saute until soft.Add the roasted chopped peppers, cumin, oregano, water, and a large pinch of salt. Simmer, 15 minutes or until the vegetables are very tender. Let sit for a while to cool if desired.
- Carefully ladle the hot vegetables with some of the liquid into a blender. DO NOT overfill the blender. Blend in batches as necessary. Process, placing a folded towel over the top to keep the hot liquid inside, until smooth. Proceed until all of the sauce has been blended.If the sauce is not smooth enough, put through a food mill or sieve. Taste and adjust seasonings.Store in the refrigerator for up to a week, or freeze until needed.
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