Rick Bayless is a lunatic.
The Oklahoma native may be one of America's finest Mexican chefs, but he also hates you. And me. I can't think of another explanation for why he'd ink up a recipe for salsa de chile de árbol that contains not one, nor two, nor five, nor ten, but SIXTEEN of the angry hot little bastards.
The salsa has a remarkable flavor, with charred tomatillos and roasted garlic providing a smokey-tart savoriness. And then there's the heat. Chile de árbol is on the same spiciness plane as cayenne. It's hot. I halved the amount Bayless prescribed and the salsa could still strip paint. That's not a bad thing, you just have to be careful.
Or, alternatively, you could prepare this salsa for whatever Cinco de Mayo festivities you have going on today and watch with mirthful spite while your friends and loved ones writhe in agony as they are tortured by the heat but unable to resist its excellent flavor. I mean, that's what I'd do.
Huh... perhaps Bayless isn't so crazy after all.
Recipe after the jump.
8 dried chiles de árbol
1 lb. tomatillos, husked and washed
6 cloves garlic, peeled
Salt to taste
Place the dried chiles in a bowl and cover with hot water. Let soak for 20-30 minutes.
Set your broiler to high and position an oven rack six inches below it. Place the tomatillos on a foil-lined baking sheet and brush them with the olive oil. Set them under the broiler for 4-5 minutes, or until they start to blacken and char. Turn the tomatillos over, brush the garlic cloves with oil and add them to the pan, and place the pan back under the broiler for another 4-5 minutes.
Place the blackened tomatillos and garlic, along with any accumulated juices, in a bowl and let cool for about 10 minutes.
When sufficiently cool, place the tomatillos, garlic, and softened chiles in a blender or food processor and blend until completely smooth. Reserve the chile soaking water and add as needed to the salsa to adjust the consistency. Season with salt to taste and serve with tortilla chips or as a sauce for tacos.