A couple of years ago, I wrote about my three favorite homemade salsas. Now, thanks to my son Bryan, I’m about to add another to that list.
When he still lived in Texas, Bryan became pretty much addicted to a smooth, creamy green salsa that he first tasted when he lived in Austin, and later discovered was duplicated by the regional supermarket giant, HEB, under the name “That Green Sauce”. It was one of the things he missed the most when he moved to Indiana in January.
I tasted the sauce on his recommendation, and I liked it, but I had never tasted it before. It is not a San Antonio preparation, but it is well-known and beloved in Austin. HEB’s “That Green Sauce” is delicious but pricey, coming in at around $3.50 for a small jar, or at least it was the last time I bought it. But Bryan, removed by roughly a thousand miles from his HEB source, and being a child of the Internet, surfed around from his living room in Bloomington and found a recipe for a likely substitute, and being a really good cook, he tried it. Then he told me how to make it, and started sharing it with friends. He made some in the kitchen of our rented vacation house in Tennessee during our recent family reunion, and now I have it on good authority that more than one batch has been made in a New Jersey kitchen by yet another expatriate Texan, my brother.
I just made my first batch, and it is both easy and inexpensive.
This green sauce is, in cooking parlance, just an emulsion of fresh jalapeños. You take a big batch of fresh peppers, seed them, cover them with water, and boil them until they are soft. Then you drain them, blend them in a blender with a little salt, and pour warm oil through the blender’s feed tube in a steady stream until you get a nice thick but pourable sauce. And that’s all there is to that.
The peppers do have to be seeded, and therein lies the toughest part of this recipe–overcoming the powers of the capsaicin in the peppers. Good ventilation is key while seeding the peppers. Let’s just say that I discovered that my kitchen sink area does not have particularly good ventilation, as I coughed and sneezed my way through removing the seeds from a pound of jalapeños. There is a reason that pepper spray is effective. I did not wear gloves, and by being careful not to touch the insides of the peppers managed to avoid burning hands. To seed the peppers, I used a curved-bladed grapefruit knife, pictured here. It worked well, but according to my brother they make a tool just for this purpose. I don’t have one though.
After the peppers are seeded, they are boiled, drained, blended, and combined with the oil.
As to spiciness, it’s all a crapshoot. Even if you seed the peppers, if the peppers you have are really hot, your salsa will be too. But I have noticed that it doesn’t seem to be as hot after the first bite.
Here’s the recipe, as told to me by my son.
makes about 1 1/2 cups
1 lb. fresh jalapeño peppers, seeds and membranes removed
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 cup oil, warmed
Place seeded peppers in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook for 20-30 minutes. Peppers will be soft. Drain.
Place the drained peppers in a blender container. Add the salt. Turn on the blender and puree the peppers completely.
Through the hole in the top of the lid, pour 1/2 cup warmed oil (a neutral oil is best) in a steady stream while blender is on. The sauce will become thicker.
Eat with some good tortilla chips and prepare to be warmed from the inside out. Store in refrigerator.