Lately, I've made a weekly routine of blending up roasted tomatillos, garlic, and serrano chiles to make a simple, cheap salsa. Salsa verde is really that simple: just throwing everything under a broiler until soft and charred, blending it up with a little water and salt, and finding some good tortilla chips. It's all about the tomatillo, which is tart, sweet, and smoky after roasting.
Of course, the stuff is great on its own. But tomatillo salsa is also an excellent base for starting a dish with those smokey, spicy flavors, like this one from Rick Bayless's Salsas that Cook. If you have the salsa made already, it's almost no work: stir together with cream, pour it over chicken, and bake until the chicken is just cooked through. Making the salsa takes all of ten minutes, though—so either way, it's quick, simple, and satisfying cooking.
- 1/2 pound tomatillos, husked and rinsed
- 2 large cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 serrano chiles, stemmed (or to taste)
- 1/3 cup loosely packed cilantro, plus more for garnish
- salt to taste
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, or 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
On a small baking sheet, spread out the tomatillos, garlic cloves, and serrano chiles. Roast under a hot broiler until charred and soft, turning once during cooking, about 5 minutes per side. Set the oven to 400 degrees.
Once the vegetables have cooled slightly, blend with the cilantro and just enough water to bring it together (1/4 cup or so). Taste and season with salt.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the tomatillo salsa and the cream. Put the chicken in a baking dish that holds everything snugly in one layer and cover with the tomatillo-cream sauce.
Bake the chicken until just cooked through, 15-30 minutes depending on the size of the pieces.