Note on chiles: This is one of the most versatile formulas to know, since you can go to practically any grocery store and find at least one variety of small hot dried chile
. In a Mexican market (on either side of the border), the possibilities multiply quickly ? from the nuttiness of cascabel to the punch
of arbol chiles, the peanutiness of piquin, and the smoky sweetness of red chipotles (morita). As a rough guide, 1/2 ounce dried chiles corresponds to 6 red chipotles (mortas), 4 tan chipotles, 16 arbols, 3 cascabels or 1/4 cup piquin.
Toasting and roasting. Preheat a broiler.
In an ungreased skillet over medium heat, toast the chiles, stirring for 1 minute, until they are very aromatic
(some will have slightly darkened spots on them). Transfer to a bowl, cover with hot water and rehydrate for 30 minutes.
In the same skillet, roast
the garlic, turning regularly, until soft and blotchy-dark in places, about 15 minutes. Cool and slip off the papery skin.
Roast the tomatillos on a baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler until soft, even blackened
in spots, about 5 minutes on each side. Cool, then transfer the contents of the baking sheet (including any juices) to a blender
or a food processor
the salsa: Drain
the chiles and add to the tomatillos along with the garlic. Puree, then scrape into a serving dish. Stir in enough water to give a spoonable consistency, usually about 1/4 cup. Season with salt, usually 1 teaspoon, and the optional sugar. Refrigerated, the salsa
keeps for several days.