Wednesday, November 16, 2011

how tomatillos changed my life {with recipes}

I didn't really know what a tomatillo was until a couple of years ago.  This also means I had no idea that salsa verde, what I typically go for in a salsa bar, is made out of them.  I guess I just assumed they used green tomatoes or something, no idea, but tomatillo was not part of my vocabulary then.  Shame, because it's quite fun to say. 

Now I not only know what they are, but I planted some in the garden this summer. Growing tomatillos was a bit of an adventure.  I had no idea what to expect. The plants are these spidery things, nothing like a tomato plant.  They produce these darling little yellow flowers, which I thought would quickly turn into fruit.  They didn't.  It took months before I spotted any fruit growing, and when I did, the actual fruit wasn't large enough inside its skin for several weeks.  But by September, there were lots of fruit on each plant. Not quite summer anymore, but I was happy.

If you've never had a tomatillo, you really should.  They are my favorite salsa ingredient.  They are sweet and sour and crisp, sort of like an apple and a tomato made a baby.  It's really a beautiful thing.

I did some salsa research.  My brother-in-law served a mission for the LDS church in Mexico, so I asked him how salsa verde is made down there.  It's simple really: tomatillos, garlic, salt, lime juice, jalapeno pepper, and cilantro. They make theirs using one of those cool stone bowls you mush everything into {no idea what that is called}, but I use a blender. So here is my super simple recipe. Keep in mind most of the ingredients are by taste, so adjust as needed. 

Salsa Verde Ingredients
* 10 tomatillos cut into chunks
* 1 large garlic clove {mince it if your blender's lame}
* 1 handful of cilantro
* 1-2 tsp. of salt {or to taste}
* juice of 2 limes
* jalapeno pepper to taste {whole pepper if you like to torture the tastebuds by burning them right off, or  half a pepper for a milder flavor, your choice}

Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.  It should look like this when you're done and will keep for about a week in the fridge.


So I love this stuff with chips, but one of my favorite things to do is to season taco meat with it.  I think this recipe is fairly well-known, but I'll still share.  My sister Natalie, who has surprised us all with her wicked ways in the kitchen {marriage brings out the best in us I think} was the first to tell me about this recipe.  To feed my family of four and have some leftovers, I use the following:

* 3 chicken breasts {they can even be frozen, score!}
* salsa verde {enough to cover the chicken, or a jar full if you're not using the fresh stuff}

Put your chicken {again, it can be frozen} into a crock pot, pour your salsa over it, and cook on low for about 6-8 hours.  When your chicken is done cooking, take a fork and shred it.  This is your super delish taco meat.  Now how easy was that? 

We eat tacos a lot in our house, so I like to come up with different ways of loading them. Below is a picture of the basic taco: chicken, cheese, sour cream, red onion, cilantro, salsa verde.  I also am not a fan of the shells you buy in the store that are hard, already shaped for you, and resemble what you get at Taco Bell.  Instead, I use soft corn shells and heat them over the stove on a skillet until they are toasted.  So good and much healthier than frying them.  There are even times when I crave these tacos more than chocolate.



Stacey said...

Amanda- I L-O-V-E you blog! Does your salsa verde recipe make enough to cover 3 chicken breasts for your sisters recipe?

Amanda said...

Stacey, yes it does, and you'll have extra. Enjoy!