Thursday, September 30, 2010

Green Gold

It's almost the end of tomato season. Same goes for tomatillos, their small green cousin. I've always admired tomatillos at the market, picking them up and feeling their papery covering. Sometime in late July I finally bought some, unsure of what I would do with them.

Over several sessions of experimenting, I've figured out a couple of delicious things to do with tomatillos. I thought I'd share with you, as they're probably in your market too for the next two weeks and it's easy to make interesting and delicious food with tomatillos, as it turns out.

Start by peeling off the paper outer shell and wash each tomatillo.

Cut them in half and broil them until they brown a little, maybe 8 minutes.

Let them cool, and then puree them with the juice of one lime, a clove of garlic, a little sugar, and a bit of salt. I like to add at least one jalapeño pepper. Two or more is delicious but the kids have a hard time if I add more than one.

So now you have this delicious tomatillo purée. You can stop here, grab a bunch of tortilla chips, and go to town. And yes, save a little of the salsa to do just that. But this stuff is liquid gold for cooking. I've been braising pork shoulder in tomatillo salsa. Start by browning a hunk of pork shoulder.

Then cook some onions and garlic in the same pot, add a solid tablespoon of ground cumin and coriander, a healthy dose of the green tomatillo salsa, some stock, and put the pork back in the pot. Braise at 275 for 3 hours, turning the pork once.

You can serve chunks of the pork with the braising liquid and some cilantro over rice, or shred the pork and serve it with either the braising liquid or some of the original salsa in soft tacos.

I recently discovered that the tomatillo salsa works as a soup base. Imagine this: that salsa warmed in a pot, add some chicken stock, some shredded cabbage (I used bok choy because I had no cabbage), hunks of avocado, some of the shredded pork from above, some tortilla chips, a squeeze of lime...

I'm sure there are other things to do with tomatillos, but I haven't figured them out yet. I'll tell you this, though. Green chili braised pork and green chili soup are really good. And you've probably figured out by now that this is beer, not wine food.


deetrane said...

What you have created - intentionally or otherwise - is chile verde. Which I think is possibly the most delicious braised pork preparation of any kind, but certainly the most delicious Mexican recipe I know. My recipe is remarkable similar, except the roasting and pureeing of the tomatillo's is something I never thought to do and must add a giant layer of extra flavor.

The main differences between the recipe I have been using and what you did are:

1. I brown de-boned chunks of pork shoulder, then add onion, garlic, chopped green pepper and a chopped serrano or jalepeno chile pepper.

2. Then in with the cumin, but no coriander.

3. I then add chopped fresh tomatillios, and a tablespoon or so of tomato paste.

4. Then the stock, and a large can of hominy, or posole. In fact, the spanish name for this dish, according to my Salvadoran ex-nanny, is "posole". When I first made this, I didn't use the hominy. But once I started using it, I couldn't go back to the pre-hominy version.

5. I let the whole thing go overnite in the oven in a dutch oven at 200 degrees.

6. I squirt the lime juice just before serving.

Yeah, beer is probably the right match. But, ignorance being bliss, I served this in Deer Valley to a bunch of friends together with a 1989 Domaine des Comte Lafon Meursault Charmes and a 1990 Domaine Dujac Morey St. Denis (villages - both pilfered from our host's local cellar).

You'd have to ask my friends if you wanted an honest answer as to whether or not that really worked as a pairing.

kitchen table said...

A thumbs up for this recipe! Thanks a lot for sharing this. I would love to make some today!

Do Bianchi said...

I'm breaking a Jewish sweat just reading this. Seriously... great post, man...

Unknown said...

I grew tomatillos for the first time this year-this looks like a great thing to do with them!! I had thought of making a chili verde-but the roasting step is a great addition!