Chipotle-Cascabel Salsa with Roasted Tomatoes and Tomatillos

These chiles will add a deep, nutty flavor to dishes and are great to use in salsas and sauces. It is a medium-hot chile that is good in soups, stews, sauces and sausage.

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3 (1/3 oz) dried chipotle chiles
3 (1/3 oz) dried round cascabel chiles
1/2 lb (6 to 7 medium) tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1/2 lb (3 medium) ripe tomatoes, preferably plum
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 large (1/2 lb) white onion, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
About 1/2 cup water
1 generous tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar (optional)


Heat the broiler and set a heavy skillet over medium heat. Break the stems off the chiles, scoop them into the heating pan and stir, pressing them down regularly, until you notice that the chiles have darkened a little in spots and they fill the kitchen with their spicy aroma. The whole toasting process will take 2 to 3 minutes. Scoop the chiles into a bowl, pour very hot tap water on them and lay a plate on them to keep them submerged.

On a broiler pan or heavy baking sheet, spread out the whole tomatillos and tomatoes and set about 4 inches under the broiler. Roast for 5 to 6 minutes until softened and blackened with splotches on one side (the tomatillos will have begun to turn olive green with dark spots). Use a pair of thongs to turn them over and roast for another 5 to 6 minutes until completely softened and equally darkened on the other side. Remove to cool.

Turn the over down to 425 degrees. Break the onion into rings. On a similar pan or baking sheet, spread out the garlic and onion. Set in the oven and roast, stirring well every couple of minutes, until the garlic is soft and the onion richly browned — there may be a couple of charred ends here and there, but don’t let it all burn or your salsa will be bitter. Total roasting time will be about 15 minutes.

Scrape the onion and garlic into a food processor, cover and pulse until they are finely chopped but not pasty smooth. Scoop into a large bowl. Drain the rehydrated chiles (they should have soaked 20 minutes by now — the right about of time to soften them without soaking away too much of their flavor). For a less rustic salsa or if you’re canning the salsa, peel the skins off the cooled tomatoes and cut out the “cores” where the stems were attached — always working over the baking sheet to capture the juices. Without washing the processor, scoop in the chiles, them add the tomatillos (no need to peel off the darkened skin or cut out their cores) and tomatoes with all their accumulated juices. Pulse a few times, then let the machine run until everything is quite finely pureed (this takes a minute or so). Scape into the bowl with the onion and garlic, then stir in the fresh thyme and enough water to give it an easy spoonable consistency.

Taste, then season with salt and the sugar. Remember, like all condiments, this salsa should be highly seasoned — a little salty and with enough sugar to balance the bite of the chiles and tang of the tomatillos. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate it covered and use within 5 days.

Makes about 2 cups.

Recipe by Rick Bayless, from