It’s a long trip from Wisconsin to Key West. G. and I flew into Atlanta, met my mom and her boyfriend and flew on to Miami. Then, we all piled into a rental car for the nearly four-hour drive to Key West.
We had all been up since about 4 a.m., so we were hungry by the time we landed in Florida. Worried about Miami traffic, we decided to drive to Key Largo and stop there for a lunch break before heading on down Route 1. I did a quick search on Yelp and decided we should stop at Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen, which has quite a reputation for its key lime pie. (More on that later.)
It turned out to be one of our favorite restaurants, and we ate there on our way back to Miami too.
We all ordered the same thing on our first visit: the fish of the day with Tijuana sauce, which is a salsa made with tomatillos, tomatoes, jalapeno, onion and fresh cilantro. It comes with rice, beans and a roll; both days we were there, the featured fish was mahi-mahi.
It was so good that I ordered pretty much the same thing during our second visit. That time, I had the fish southwestern style, with a green salsa and avocado.
The TJ sauce is what stuck with me though, particularly because it has been a great year for us to grow tomatillos. We’ve had a lot of fruit, and a lot good-sized fruit, on our plants.
I tried to recreate the restaurant’s sauce when I got home. My version is based on the tomatillo salsa recipe in Canning and Preserving for Dummies. Essentially, I replaced half of the tomatillos with tomatoes and used different peppers.
I am sure it’s not the same as the restaurant’s because I had to add vinegar to make a recipe that could be safely canned. But it’s delicious nonetheless, and I nice variation on the salsa verde that I often make.
Michelle’s TJ Sauce
2 pounds tomatillos, husks removed, cored
2 pounds tomatoes, skins removed
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 ice cubes of jalapeño (2 tablespoons)
8 ice cubes of roasted poblano pepper (1/2 cup)
2 cups white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
Peel and seed the tomatoes. Run them through a food processor until they are fairly well chopped.
Wash the tomatillos and then run them through the food processor too. If you need to chop the onion, cilantro and some peppers, you can use the food processor for that as well.
As a side note, I often cut up peppers when I have them and then freeze them in ice cube trays. It makes for convenient cooking later on.
Combine all the ingredients in a big pot and bring the salsa to a boil. Then let it simmer for about 20 minutes.
Can in half-pint jars with 1/4-inch headspace. Process the jars in a rolling water bath for 15 minutes from the point of boiling.