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We use this Salsa Verde recipe as our sauce of choice for our chicken tamales, and our chicken, turkey or seafood enchiladas.  This sauce is not limited to chicken, as it makes an outstanding sauce for pork tamales, chicken or seafood enchiladas, or just about any dish that you can imagine.  I got this recipe from a street vendor after a visit to Mexicali, Mexico,  (click on the hyperlink, this stuff is real... ) where this sauce is liberally applied to the various varieties of tacos they sell. I like a smoky taste to my salsa, so I came up with a few changes to this recipe, and if you're a fan of a smoky tasting salsa, you'll love this recipe as the wood smoke adds a whole new dimension to the flavor.

Special tool:  Blender, smoker, aluminum foil baking pan
Preparation time:  About 10 minutes
Cooking time:  About 2 hours
Yield:  About a quart of salsa

2 - lbs tomatillos, husked and quartered
1 white onion, diced  (yellow or white onion can be substituted)
2 jalapeno chili peppers, seeded, stemmed and finely diced  (substitute 2 Anaheim chili peppers for less heat)
4 cloves garlic, chopped into quarters
1/4 cup chicken stock,
preferably homemade; click on link to view my recipe
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or more salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Wood chunks, as needed, see text

Fire up your smoker, using about eight briquettes.  I do not use lighter fluid, as I prefer a chimney starter.  When briquettes are hot, and have a layer of gray ash, add a chunk of wood on top of the briquettes.

While smoker is heating, remove husks from tomatilos.  Remove cores from each tomatillo.  With a sharp knife, slit side of each pepper and remove seeds and veins, but leave stem intact for easier handling.  Remove outer skin from onion and cut in half.  Remove skin from garlic.  Place items in foil baking pan, and place in smoker.  Adjust smoker temperature to 180 degrees and allow to smoke until tomatillos are soft and skin starts to turn brown; about two hours.  See photo as it clearly illustrates how tomatillos appear when done.

Photo:  The smoker is at 180 degrees and I've adjusted the vents to the smoke chamber is thouroughly filled with fragrant oak wood smoke.

I use oak wood  for smoking, as it is abundant in our area, but hickory, apple or alder can be substituted.  I can't recommend mesquite, as it has a tendency to implant a bitter taste in the tomatillos.  I take one fireplace-sized piece of cut oak and saw it in half, which fits well into the offset-firebox of my smoker.

The briquettes are used only to get the wood going, and when the briquettes are gone, I rely on the wood for the heat and the smoke.

Photo:  Tomatillos, onions and peppers are finished and ready to whirl in the blender..  Note that they appear soft and are brown in color.

Place tomatillos, onions, peppers and garlic in a blender.  Add chicken stock, salt and cumin.  Whirl until blended and runny. Serve as a dip, use for a tamale sauce, taco condiment, or use the salsa verde to top just about anything with it.  Salsa verde goes especially well with chicken, turkey or pork entrees.  Enjoy!

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