Hatch peppers aren’t the only spicy food that fires up Austinites.
Live here long enough and you’ll hear about Tacodeli’s Doña sauce, a searing green sauce that the restaurant has been serving for more than a decade, ever since a cook named Bertha Gonzales whipped up a batch of this creamy salsa from her hometown of Veracruz, where she’s once operated a taco truck.
When I first told that story on Relish Austin, I ran a Gonzales-inspired recipe for a spaghetti casserole that calls for the sauce, but now I’m here to tell you how to make the actual sauce.
Tacodeli doesn’t say what exactly goes in their Doña, but they certainly aren’t the only ones in town who serve some variation on it. I’ve heard about some restaurants frying or roasting the jalapeño or serrano peppers before blending them, while others simply boil them in water. There’s debate over whether the sauce needs garlic or what kind of oil best emulsifies the puree, but I’m a fan of this version from the Austin-based blogger Homemade Mommy: a garlicky aiolli-like sauce emulsified with olive oil.
Earlier this week, I made the sauce using a dozen peppers that chef Justin Raiford of Bess Bistro and Walton’s Fancy and Staple gave me from the restaurants’ acre farm off Bee Cave Road.
It took less time than it takes to drive to Tacodeli from my house, which counts as a win in my book.
Knock-off Doña Sauce
12 jalapeño or serrano peppers, de-stemmed
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/3 cup olive oil Hearty pinch (or two) of salt
Boil the peppers in a medium pot of water. Simmer for about 12 minutes, until the peppers are cooked and start to darken. Reserve some of the cooking water, but drain the peppers.
In a blender or food processor, process the peppers, garlic, 1-2 Tbsp. of the cooking water and salt. Once these ingredients have come together, turn on the machine and slowly add the olive oil so that the sauce starts to thicken and become creamy. This sauce keeps in the fridge for about three weeks.
— Addie Broyles, adapted from a recipe by Homemade Mommy