Sunday, March 8, 2009

Challenge Ingredient: TOMATILLOS

Well, two weeks in a row now we've gotten the challenge out late in the evening on Sunday. Sorry about that.

Let me first introduce myself briefly, since I know that most of you know Jillian, and none of you know me. My name is Janelle, and while I've never actually met Jillian, she and I have a history together. We'll leave it at that for now. I live in Cleveland, OH with my husband and beautiful 10-and-a-half month old daughter.

My first challenge ingredient is tomatillos (pronounced toe-mah-TEE-yos). See, I really like love Mexican food. I always have. I've also had the wonderful opportunity to eat real, authentic Mexican food, homemade in Mexican kitchens. I love a good green sauce.

Many people who aren't very familiar with Mexican food may think that green sauce (or salsa verde) is made either from green tomatoes or from peppers. Neither is true. It's made from tomatillos, which are part of the tomato family, but not actually tomatoes. When I buy tomatillos at the store, I find them in the same spot as the tomatoes and avocados. This is what they generally look like in the store:
They have a papery-like husk surrounding them. I usually turn them upside down and peel back the paper a little bit to check the color and surface of the fruit before choosing it.
The brighter the green, the better the tomatillo. Also, you want to choose fruit that is as big as its husk. Don't choose one that has a big husk with a tiny fruit won't be as ripe as it's not fully grown. Additionally, sometimes there may be a little bit of mold growth beneath the surface of the husk. Don't buy that fruit either, as it may be brown all the way through.

Once you get the fruit home and you begin your recipe, you'll definitely want to rinse the fruit off before using it. Peel the husk off, and you will find the surface of the tomatillo to be a bit sticky. When I clean these, I really rub at them with my thumbs, to get as much of the stickiness off as I can.

I actually only have one recipe that I've ever made using tomatillos, but I absolutely love it. It's one of the more authentic Mexican dishes out there (you'd be hard-pressed to find it on a menu at a restaurant), and surprisingly easy. It's called Chicken Chilaquiles (but it can be made with pork, beef, or turkey...I used up some Thanksgiving leftovers with it once), and the recipe can be found here. (By the way, it's pronounced chee-la-KEE-lays.)

Happy cooking!


Jillian said...

awesome! Yeah, last week I totally spaced that it was Sunday, until my Mom said, "The first challenge starts tonight, right?" Crap!

And I like the little "we have history together" teaser. LOL!

Jenn said...

Well Nice to meet you Janelle! I missed last weeks challenge but I already bought my tomatillos for this week. I have a few recipes (mainly green sauce and avacado dip) that use tomatillos but Jillian said it has to be something new! So, I wish us all luck :)

Anyways, love the Blog so far. I'll try to be better at it!

*Yeah, and Jillian told me your history a while back! HAHAHAHAHA