Recipe: Chile Colorado de la Cocinera de la Casa O’Leary

I GOT THIS salsa recipe from the beautiful and generous cook at Casa O’Leary in San Miguel de Allende. I never asked her what she called it, so I decided to name it after her. I’ve made it many times but I had never taken the time to write down the ingredients, until this afternoon. It is a very easy recipe to prepare and the slightly lemony taste is superb.

It is not too hot (spicy), so if you want something spicier, do not remove the seeds from the dried chiles. If that’s still not hot enough, try adding one or two dried peppers that have a more powerful kick. You’ll note that the recipe does not call for either tomatoes or onions. Do not fret. You do not need them. Adding either would mess with the delicate balance of flavors. 


1 lb      tomatillos (about 8 large ones)

2          dried chiles anchos

2          dried chiles guajillos

3          large garlic cloves

1 tsp    salt

  1. Slit open the anchos and guajillos and remove the seeds.
  2. Remove the husks from the tomatillos and boil them until they lose their bright green color and turn yellowish. (Or, until they’re moochi, as Pati Jinich would say!)
  3. Heat a couple of cups of water in a small pan.
  4. Place the chiles and the garlic cloves on a hot comal or cast-iron skillet.
  5. Remove the chiles after a couple of minutes or so, once you see they are starting to turn darker and shrivel a bit. Do not burn them.
  6. Place the chiles in the hot water and let them soak for about five minutes.
  7. Place the tomatillos in a blender. Add the garlic cloves and salt.
  8. Once the chiles are nice and soft, place them in the blender also.
  9. Puree the ingredients until you have a nice, smooth creamy sauce. If it’s too thick, add a bit of the water in which you soaked the chiles and puree again.

Note 1: In our home we called tomatillos “tomates de fresadilla.” I never learned why, but I imagine it has to do with the small seeds that look like a strawberry’s seeds (fresa: strawberry). In Mexico they are called tomates, whereas the regular tomatoes, which we call tomates, are called jitomates. One of these days I’ll do some research to find out why.

Note 2: We never used the word salsa in our house. It was always chile. Likewise, we always used colorado for red, not rojo.

Note 3: You can probably use this chile as a base for enchilada sauce. It’s great for dipping chips, or over huevos rancheros.

About juanzqui7

Former Texas reporter, columnist and editorial writer.
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4 Responses to Recipe: Chile Colorado de la Cocinera de la Casa O’Leary

  1. sg33tx says:

    Thank you! I need this.


    Sent from my iPhone


  2. bgrif says:

    Thanks, Juan. I’ll give it a try. We have been absent from our local place since March, so some homemade Chile Colorado sounds wonderful.

  3. Sara Fernandez says:

    The variety of recipes is wonderful. I will try this. My family – from Chihuahua – made chile colorado with onion and chile colorin and guajillo – no tomatoes.



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