Adapted from: Rick Bayless Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

My family loves Mexican-inspired food and we cook it often. Whether it’s lime, cumin, cilantro, black beans or some combination thereof, we love the flavors. I have always joked that if my wife would ever leave me, it would be for Rick Bayless so when I wanted to make a homemade roasted tomatillo salsa, I knew I had to go with one of his recipes. Although adapting a Bayless recipe is akin to adding a few extra brush strokes to a Picasso (IMO), I happened to have a great IPA on hand that I thought would add a delicious extra bite: Grapefruit Sculpin by Ballast Point Brewing.

If you read our blog or follow our social media accounts, you know our infatuation with GF Sculpin. I have said numerous times that I do not like grapefruit but I am starting to love this beer. It’s so bright, flavorful and citrus-forward without having the overall bitterness that I normally get from grapefruit. I figured these qualities would make it a perfect addition to a tangy, citrusy marinade, or, in this case, a salsa.

I started off by acquiring a double batch of all of the ingredients from Bayless’ original recipe, along with two Poblano peppers. I like the slightly smokey and earthier nature of Poblanos and they roast nicely.

I removed the husk and washed the tomatillos to remove the tackiness and stemmed and seeded the jalapeños and poblanos. You can roast with the seeds but we prefer flavor to the heat from the seeds. After this step, I largely followed Bayless’ directions except for the following notes:

  • I used an entire bunch of cilantro. I can't have enough cilantro in my salsas, and the stems add a little substance.
  • I split everything into two batches. My blender is not big enough to hold it all, but more importantly, this allowed me to compare the original recipe to my Sculpin twist.
  • It is important to wait a few minutes after roasting to allow the peppers to cool. These guys are scorching. This is the perfect time to open up the first GF Sculpin.
  • Rough chopping makes this a really easy salsa to make. Let the blender do the work.

Now, on to the comparison!

Once both batches were roasted and chopped, I was ready to add liquid. Bayless’ recipe calls for water, which I would never add anyway; if you save the liquid from roasting your veggies, the salsa should be thin enough already. The question here was what kind of difference the beer would make.  

To test it out, I scooped a couple of heaping spoonfuls of salsa into a bowl and added a splash of GF Sculpin from a new can of course! In a second bowl, I added spoonfuls of salsa without any additional liquid. Then, I let it sit for 30 minutes. I’d usually prefer to let the flavors meld for at least a couple days but this time, I was hungry and a quesadilla was calling my name.

Waiting is the hardest part.

Finally, it was tasting time.

With just the single change in ingredients, there was a stark contrast between the two bowls. The bowl with the Sculpin was brighter in citrus flavor and thicker in consistency. I am not a man of science but the beer actually seemed to help bring the salsa together. Did the salsa need the beer? Probably not. However, I would definitely make it this way again.

One day later, and I’m out of GF Sculpin and salsa. What do I do now? Time to go to the store to replenish!