Meet the tomatillo–this small, plump, green fruit was a favorite of the Aztecs and stars in any number of Mexican dishes today. Its tart flavor is worlds apart from the taste of tomatoes, but is just as juicy and unforgettable. This episode will show you where to find tomatillos, how to cook with them, and tips and tricks for creating amazing dishes.
SALSA VERDE WITH AVOCADO AND CHEESE
Salsa Verde con Aguacate y Queso Fresco
Makes about 2 cups
1 lb tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed
1 garlic clove
1 or 2 chiles serranos (can adjust for desired spiciness level)
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
2 tbsp white onion, roughly chopped
1 1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt, or to taste
1/2 lb queso fresco diced, or can use farmer’s cheese or mild feta instead
1 ripe Mexican avocado, halved, pitted and sliced or cut into chunks
Warm corn tortillas or tortilla chips
Place tomatillos in a sauce pan and cover with water. Bring to a simmer and cook until the tomatillos are soft and mushy, but not coming apart, about 10 minutes.
Place the tomatillos, garlic, chiles serranos (add one by one to taste for spiciness desired and adjust the heat as you go), cilantro, onion and salt in the blender. Blend until smooth. You may also mash it all up in a molcajete.
Serve in a bowl or molcajete, along with the queso fresco and avocado slices. Offer warm corn tortillas or tortilla chips on the side.
This salsa may be used to spoon on top of thousands of things; including tacos, quesadillas, eggs in the morning, or grilled meats.
CHICKEN IN A TOMATILLO, CHIPOTLE AND BROWN SUGAR SAUCE
Pollo con Tomate Verde, Chipotle y Piloncillo
Serves 4 to 6
3 chicken leg quarters, or 3 drumsticks and 3 thighs, rinsed and patted dry
1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt, more or less to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1/4 cup safflower or corn oil
2 cups white onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 lbs tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed, quartered
4 tbsp piloncillo, shredded, or substitute for brown sugar
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, plus more sauce if desired
2 cups chicken broth, or water
Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
In a thick and tall heavy skillet or casserole dish, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the chicken pieces. Brown on one side, for about 4 to 5 minutes and then flip and brown on the other side, for another 3 to 4 minutes. Don’t try to flip too soon or the skin will stick to the skillet. Remove the chicken pieces and place in a bowl. You may remove the skin if you wish, I don’t.
Add the onion to the skillet and cook, stirring for about 3 to 4 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, for about 20 seconds. Make room in the pan and add the tomatillos. Let it cook all together, for about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the piloncillo, the chipotles and their sauce and stir well. Once it comes to a simmer incorporate the chicken pieces along with the chicken broth and cook for about 30 to 35 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce should be chunky and thick, and the chicken fully cooked.
TOMATILLO AND LIME JAM
Mermelada de Tomate Verde con Limon
Makes about 1 1/4 cups
1 lb tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed and roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
4 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
Rind of a lime, whole or chopped
A pinch of salt
Place all of the ingredients into a saucepan set over medium heat. Let them come to a simmer and stir occasionally, letting them cook until it has thickened and achieved a soft and loose jam consistency, about 35 to 40 minutes.
Don’t wait until it has thickened too much, because it thickens considerably as it cools. Once it has cooled down, pour it into a container, cover tightly and refrigerate.