Tomatillo Salsa
(Makes 2 quarts)

This salsa is a favorite among my customers. Tomatillos have a note of citrus which creates the perfect counterpoint to the chilies and spices in the recipe. When you combine this salsa with chicken in a tamale or enchilada, you've got yourself a flavor fiesta. 


3 pounds 22 to 25 tomatillos 
3 serrano chiles (or two large ones)
5 poblano chilies 
2 white onions, quartered 
5 cloves garlic, unpeeled
3 teaspoons cumin seed 
2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
2 teaspoon coriander seed
2 tablespoons lard

Salt to taste 


  1. Fire roast onions, garlic, and serrano chiles on a comal over a burner for 10 to 15 minutes, turning several times to char all sides 
  2. Fire roast tomatillos and poblano chilies under broiler, turning to make sure all sides are charred. Place poblanos in a plastic bag 15 minutes to steam, then peel away outer skin and remove seeds and stems. Do not wash poblanos because that will diminish their flavor.
  3. Peel roasted garlic and place all fire roasted ingredients in a blender for 20 to 30 seconds, then set blender aside until step five.
  4. Toast cumin and coriander seeds for several minutes in a sauté pan. Combine with Mexican oregano and drive 8-10 seconds in a spice grinder. 
  5. Heat lard in a large skillet, add spice mixture and fry a few minutes. Add fire roasted ingredients from blender. The blended ingredients will “spit” when poured into oil, so be cautious. After a minute, lower heat to medium and simmer for about five minutes. If needed, add chicken broth while cooking to thin the salsa. Add salt to taste. I use about a tablespoon. You may refrigerate this salsa up to five days, or freeze for several months.

Note: some tomatillo salsa recipes also call for avocado. If you like the flavor, you might try adding avocado to the fire roasted ingredients before blending.


Chipotle Salsa
(Makes 2 quarts)

Chipotle chilies have come from obscurity in the US a few years ago, two appearing on restaurant menus and in home kitchens everywhere. There's a good reason. They have a sweet-hot flavor that comes from a long, slow smoking process. The result is an exotic and appealing tang in recipes. Chipotle chilies are actually ripened, dried and smoked jalapeño chilies. Although they are not "scotch bonnet hot," you can easily overdo it. Measure carefully. 

When taste testing, keep in mind that your salsa will be tempered when blended with other ingredients in the dish you are making. That is, the salsa will seem milder in the finished dish then when you first taste it by itself. Of course, if you are using this for a table salsa, it is what it is.


16 dried New Mexico chilies 

4 cups boiling water 

2 teaspoons Mexican oregano 

3 teaspoons Cumin seeds

Four white onions, peeled and quartered

Eight garlic cloves, unpeeled

3 tablespoons chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes

2 tablespoons lard

1 cup chicken broth 

Salt to taste 


  1. Wearing kitchen gloves, remove stems and seeds from chiles, then place them in saucepan containing boiling water. Turn off heat and let chilies steep 30 minutes. You may need to place a weight on chiles to make sure they are fully covered by water as they soak. 
  2. Fire and roast onions and garlic cloves on a comal over medium-high heat until blackened and soft, About15 minutes. Meanwhile, toast coriander and cumin seeds a few minutes, then grind seeds along with Mexican oregano in a spice grinder and set aside. 
  3. In a blender, purée softened chiles (with 2 cups of the chile water) for 30 to 45 seconds. Strain puréed chilies into a bowl. This removes bits of skin that you don't want in the salsa.
  4. Place fire-roasted onions and peeled garlic cloves in blender along with chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and crushed tomatoes. Blend until smooth and set aside. 
  5. Heat lard in large skillet over medium-high heat. When melted, add spices and stir a few minutes, then add chile purée. It will sputter, so be careful not to get burned. Simmer purée for a few minutes, then pour in tomato-chipotle mixture and continue cooking. Add chicken broth to thin salsa a little and add salt to taste. I use about a tablespoon. Cook another five minutes, then cool. If salsa tastes a little bitter, mix in a tablespoon or two of sugar.

Chicken Verde Tamales
(Makes about 25-30 tamales)

Ingredients and Materials​

7 pounds chicken breast, bone-in

3 large green bell peppers, diced

Corn kernels cut from 3 ears of corn

1 quart tomatillo salsa

Salt to taste

3 1⁄2 pounds prepared masa

2 pound block of sharp cheddar cheese

2 cans olives, large black pitted

30 sheets of 7" x 9" parchment paper and 60 ribbon ties


  1. Place chicken in large pot and braise in water for about one hour. Remove chicken and let sit until cool enough to handle. Shred meat and set aside.
  2. Place corn kernels, diced green bell peppers, and shredded chicken in a large bowl. Salt to taste while mixing it all together. Add 1⁄3 of the tomatillo salsa at a time until the ingredients are blended. Place filling in refrigerator until ready to assemble tamales.
  3. Grate half the cheddar cheese, keeping the rest in the refrigerator. It is easier to work with cold cheese, so grate more when you need it. Place cheese and olives in separate bowls.
  4. Prep the masa in a mixer, using the paddle at a low speed for 2 to 3 minutes. This will bring the masa to a spreadable consistency. Place masa on a sheet pan covered with aluminum foil.
  5. Position the masa, olives, cheese, filling, wrapper and ribbon ties on a flat working surface. Spread 3-4 tablespoons of the masa onto a parchment paper sheet using a masa spreader. Keep the masa 11⁄2" away from the right and left sides, and about 4" from the top (along the 9" edge). Bring the masa all the way to the lower edge (the one closest to you).
  6. Place 3-4 tablespoons of filling on the masa near the edge closest to you, sprinkle cheese over filling, and place two olives against the filling. Carefully roll tamale (going away from you) and tie each end of wrapper with a ribbon tie (about 11⁄2" in from each end).
  7. Place tamales in a steamer and cover with a cloth (to help with the steaming process). Steam for 11⁄2-2 hours. Test the doneness of the masa by peeling back the wrapper a little to see if the masa is cooked through. It's best to let the masa firm up a bit by letting the tamales rest 10 to 15 minutes before serving. The tamales will remain warm for an hour or more out of the steamer.