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Simmered Tomatillo-Serrano Sauce

1 pound tomatillos (10-12 medium), husked and rinsed
1/2 ounce fresh serrano chilies to taste - roughly 3 stemmed
1 1/2 tablespoons oil or lard
1 medium white onion, roughly chopped
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
salt, to taste

The tomatillos and chilies: THE ROASTING METHOD: Lay the tomatillos
and chilies on a baking sheet and place about 4 inches below a very
hot broiler. When the tomatillos and chilies blister, blacken and
soften on one side, about 5 minutes, turn over and roast the other
side. THE BOILING METHOD: Half fill a medium (2-3 quart) sauce
pan with water, salt generously and bring to a boil. Add the
tomatillos and chilies and simmer vigorously over medium heat until
the tomatillos have softened a little and lost their brightness
everywhere except on the indented stem end, 2 to 4 minutes. Drain
and cool.

Transfer tomatillos, chilies and any accumulated juices to a food
processor or blender.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a deep, medium-large (9-10 inch)
heavy skillet over medium. Add the onion and cook, stirring often,
until deep golden brown, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and
cook a minute longer, then scrape the browned mixture into the
processor or blender. If using a blender, cover it loosely. Pulse
machine you're using to reduce the ingredients to a rough-looking

Wipe the skillet clean; then heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of
the oil over medium-high. When hot enough to make a drop of the
puree sizzle sharply, pour it in all at once and stir constantly
for 4 to 5 minutes, as your sauce base sears and sizzles into a
darker and thicker mass. (You'll notice that characteristic roasted,
tangy aroma fill the kitchen.) Stir in the broth, let return to
a boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer briskly until thick
enough to coat a spoon, about 10 minutes. (You can check the
consistency by spooning a little on a plate: If it looks watery,
solids separating quickly from the broth, simmer it longer; if it
mounds thickly, stir in a little broth or water.) Stir in cilantro,
then taste and season with salt.

Yield: 2 1/2 cups


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