Posted May 26, 2006 by John in Reviews

Review: Capitol Punishment Serra-Tillo Green Chile Sauce

The anticipation of my latest tasting, Capitol Punishment’s Serra-Tillo Green Chile sauce, left me in a bit of a bind. I have really enjoyed Capitol Punishment’s [tag]hot sauces[/tag] so far. But I have a built in bias against green tomatillo sauces – there are very few I like. Too often, the tomatillo dominates, giving too much acidity and overpowering the peppers, bringing the whole thing out of balance and confusing the flavor of whatever I use it on. But, I tried to approach Capitol Punishment’s offering with an open mind.

On First Taste
My very first taste brought an onrush of [tag]tomatillo[/tag] flavor. “Uh oh,” I thought. “Here we go again.” Not much heat up front, either. But just as I began to despair, a bright light shone through in a mild sweetness coming to the front. A slightly herby wave followed, which was quickly moved aside by an onrush or serrano peppers. Just as the whole assortment was blending into a finely balanced crescendo, the heat came on last with an ample and unexpected burn. Simply delightful!

I tried several more tastes. With the initial flavor in recent memory, each bite made me appreciate the subtle, seamless flavor. The white grape really shines through with it’s mild sweetness, and the sauce has the perfect level of heat. This is a bite that builds, so a novice chilihead can enjoy a mild burn with one bite, and those craving more can achieve a decent burn with increasing quantity.

On Food
Such an unusual flavor combination really got my creative cooking juices flowing. I didn’t have many ingredients on hand, as I expected to use this on a take out burrito (my normal application for the average green sauce.) Though I’m sure it would excel in that task, the flavor profile inspired me to try something a little different, a little adventurous. So I decided to break out a simple staple, pasta with pesto sauce. My pesto isn’t anything special, just garlic, dried basil, dried parsley, salt, oil, a touch of corn starch and water. But I had high expectations that the Serra-Tillo could take it to another level.

I added a little less pesto than usual to the pasta, and back filled with about 1/4 of the bottle of Serra-Tillo. I paired it with a glass of neat Milagro tequila, a fairly clean tasting blanco tequila with strong earthy/mineral tones which goes great with spicy cuisine. The last tomatillo sauce I liked was Blair’s Jalapeno Tequila, so I had a suspicion it would work well.

The herby, garlic backdrop of the pesto provided a wonderful showcase for the peppery, mildly sweet character of the Capitol Punishment nectar. I can’t even say that one flavor shone through – the whole thing blended into a perfectly harmonized, satisfyingly complex and delicious flavor. The heat again took a few seconds to come on, but was more than ample for the dish. The tequila complemented very nicely, adding a colorful backdrop to the spicy main dish.

Capitol Punishment’s Serra-Tillo Green Chile sauce is a great culinary product – for those who like tomatillo based sauces, and even for those who thought they didn’t. Put it on burritos, tacos, or anything else needing a burst of delectable flavor. Or, get creative and pair it with something unusual – this sauce begs to be played with, and shines with the opportunity.

Bottom line, this is a sauce created by a Chef – and it’s a whole lot of fun for those who wish they were chefs (like myself.)

Overall Rating: 9.3 out of 10