Thursday, June 11, 2009
Tomatillo... You Make My Heart Sing
These are the funky little things that look like green tomatoes in a thin paper hull. They are a ubiquitous ingredient in Mexican cooking and literally do all the work for you to balance out a salsa or sauce. They are both savory and sweet, with a nice acid kick (think lime flavoring included in a tomato). Here’s a dish that drives the men-folk wild:
Buy some tomatillos (maybe 15 – 20) and take off the outer leaf-like skin. Cut ½ an onion into large chunks and toss with tomatillos in a little oil and salt and roast them in the oven for about 20 min at about 425 degrees or until they are mushy and the skin is brown… this is not an exact science! You can burn these… and they are also good half cooked. No need to turn them. Just go with it.
In the mean time, fire roast (aka your stove top burner) some peppers. Poblano. Anaheim. Jalapeno. Whatever heat you want. Maybe 2-4. Add these, the rest of the raw onion, about 4 cloves of garlic, some salt, the roasted tomatillo/onion mixture, and a tablespoon of canned chipotle to a Cuisenart. Blend. Taste. It may need more peppers or chipotle, depending on how hot you like it. Then add about 1 to 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream. Or until it tastes good.
Now you’ve got your sauce. And trust me, it’s worth the effort! The tomatillos are so bright and delicious, they are a perfect balance to the cream. Oh boy…
Okay! Have at the ready: a shallow pan of hot vegetable oil (heated on medium heat over the stove). Corn tortillas (5-10). Filling (shredded, salted chicken breast would be great, or even grated summer squash). The pan you intend to bake all this in, with the bottom coated in a little of the tomatillo sauce.
Assemble. Dip a tortilla in the hot oil (about 10 – 30 seconds) so that it warms through. Slap this on a plate and fill with a little chicken (it’s hot! …so take your time), roll up, and place in a pan. Continue until all the little enchiladas are side by side and fill your pan.
Finally, cover the whole dish with your sauce so that the tortillas are just covered. Add a bunch of grated white cheese (jack, provolone, white cheddar, whatever) on top. Bake at about 400 degrees until sides bubble and cheese browns. Garnish with fresh chopped green onion.
Serve with beans, or calabasitas (Mexican preparation of summer squash) or on its own. This is pure comfort food. The hubby was never so happy.