1/2 ounce small hot dried chiles, stemmed
6 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 pound (10 to 12 medium-size) tomatillos, husked and rinsed
Sugar, about 1/2 teaspoon (optional)
chiles: This is one of the most versatile formulas to know, since you can go to practically any grocery store and find at least one variety of small hot dried chile. In a Mexican market (on either side of the border), the possibilities multiply quickly from the nuttiness of cascabel to the punch of arbol chiles, the peanutiness of piquin, and the smoky sweetness of red chipotles (morita). As a rough guide, 1/2 ounce dried chiles corresponds to 6 red chipotles (mortas), 4 tan chipotles, 16 arbols, 3 cascabels or 1/4 cup piquin.