The Revealing, Secret Diaries of a Not-So-Secret Foodie

Tomatillos

In Essay, Faith, Food, Recipe on February 8, 2011 at 10:41 pm

Tomatillo-braised Pork with Red Potatoes

Tomatillo-braised Pork with Red Potatoes

For my second post, I decided to go with a fresh find, a new recipe. A recipe that although only recently discovered, quickly found itself inside my keeper box and its results on my table almost once a week. It awakened the sleepy little chef inside of me and brought enthusiasm back into my cooking. It is one of those recipes which can make you feel like an authentic Top Chef contender, if only in your head or for your family, neighbors and friends. Although out of your comfort zone, it turns out mouth-wateringly, magnificent every time. I love it. It was one of those that made me want to run out and share it with everyone I knew. Believe me, I did.

Although I love cooking for my family and gathering them around the table, I had slowly slipped into the habit of going to the same keepers stored in that little box on my counter. Why? It was safe. As a result, making meals had become dangerously close to becoming a chore. I realized that it had been a long while since I had made any deposits into my prized box. I had stopped experiencing the process of cooking, a process which I had enjoyed so much.

Sure, I continued to try new recipes. Clipped out ones that I thought my family might enjoy. I even experienced a few failures, the kind of funny failures which make cooking so memorable. However, it had been a long time since I went out searching for a cooking style that I was not familiar with; one that would challenge me. I had stopped actively seeking recipes with an unfamiliar ingredient which I had absolutely no idea what to do with and, in this particular case, didn’t exactly know where to find it, much less know when they would be in season.

And then by chance, I picked up a cookbook that had been collecting dust on my shelf. A gift given to me nearly a year before, after I had expressed a passing interest in learning how to cook authentic Mexican cuisine while watching a PBS show that featured Chicago’s very own, Rick Bayless. On the pages of his cookbook, Mexico One Plate at a Time, I found the little spark of inspiration that got me out to the store seeking an unfamiliar ingredient: The Tomatillo.

At first sight it was a little intimidating, even somewhat unattractive. That was, until I peeled away the husk and unveiled the bright, shiny green fruit. Roasting these beauties seemed such a shame. When I did so, they blistered and shriveled and were no longer their vibrant green. Despite this, ever hopeful, I popped them in the food processor as instructed and continued on with the task at hand, covering the pork with the green mixture that resulted. I set the heavy pot in the oven and hoped for the best.

It appeared as if by magic, these simple but elegant ingredients had yielded such unexpected results. The visual contrast of the aromatic green sauce as it draped over the wedged red potatoes was stunning. And then there was the pork, so tender that it was shear perfection. It almost stole the show. But, it didn’t. The tomatillo was its perfect match. I have never been to Mexico, but imagine in my mind, that this must be the comfort food of its people. Oven-roasting those tomatillos, albeit hesitantly, it turned out, transformed them into something even more amazing. But what would my family think of it? Happily, I can say that my new find received the “4 thumbs up” rating. In my home, this is equivalent to a 5-star rating from a professional food critic. It has secured its place in our keeper box.

Thus, I am posting: Tomatillo-braised Pork Loin by Rick Bayless from his memorable cookbook, Mexico One Plate at a Time. I hope you try it and it ignites an enthusiasm in you to gather your family around the dinner table and perhaps maybe, even the courage to drop off a sample for a neighbor to try. Do it. You might meet a new friend along the way; tomatillo, or otherwise.

Tomatillo-braised Pork Loin with Red Potatoes

Ingredients:

2 lbs pork loin (I prefer boneless, center cut pork loin)

1 lb tomatillos (about 10-12), washed with husks & stems removed

3 whole Serrano green chili peppers

1 white onion, chopped

3 cloves crushed and chopped garlic

1½ cups water

1 teaspoon salt

⅓ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

6-8 small red potatoes.

Wash & husk tomatillos and Serrano peppers. Place on cookie sheet and broil for 5 minutes. Flip over and cook for 5 more minutes. Skin will have slight black blisters. (Don’t be afraid). Pour peppers and tomatillos into food processor. Include all juice that has collected in the cookie sheet. (Note: I like to remove stems, seeds and veins from two of the Serranos to reduce heat. This way all of my family can enjoy). Pulse until it’s a green puree.

In Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sear pork 4-5 minutes until golden brown. Flip and brown on other side 4-5 minutes until golden brown. Remove browned pork and set aside.

Add chopped onions to Dutch oven. Brown over medium heat until golden, about 7 minutes. Add chopped garlic and cook about 1 more minute. Add tomatillo puree. Cook 5 minutes over medium heat until it thickens and turns a darker green. Stir in water and cilantro. Add 1 teaspoon of salt. Reduce over medium heat for a few minutes until somewhat reduced. Nestle pork in puree. Be sure to pour pork drippings that collect while resting into Dutch oven. Cover and place in 325 degree oven for 35-40 minutes until pork is 145 degrees.

While pork is cooking, place red potatoes in pot and just cover them with water. Bring to boil and cook ten minutes or until fork tender. If desired, placed boiled potatoes into pot for last 10 minutes of cooking (Note: I don’t do this for my family, as I have one foodie in the clan that doesn’t like green). Go figure!

Slice pork into medallions. Serve with red potatoes covered with the sauce.

© suebthefoodie.com, 2011.

  1. Love the new entry. So happy you’re doing this. MOM

  2. I cannot wait to make this one! I’ve been waiting for the recipe since my favorite foodie brought me a sample. I hope mine is as good as hers is!

  3. Sounds yummy!!!

  4. I grew these last summer but didn’t know what to do with them. Can’t wait to try again this summer.

    • Melissa. first thank you for your support. Can’t wait for you to try this one. A fellow foodie friend of mine and I want to grow tomatillos this summer. We have absolutely no idea how to grow these. Any tips you can provide on growing them successfully would be greatly appreciated. Also, I would like to cultivate them using organic-friendly methods so if you have any suggestions in this regard, please advise. Thank you so much.

  5. Make. This. Recipe. My family of 5 gave this 5 thumbs up! It is a rare meal that pleases all 3 of my kids. I took Suebthefoodie’s advice and didn’t drizzle the sauce over my picky one’s pork and potatoes, and it worked like a charm. I wonder if Tomatillos (my new favorite word) will grow in my garden…

    • Yeah. I am smiling ear to ear. I get so nervous when I share a recipe. I am so happy that you and your crew liked it. Even more so because you didn’t cook it. Sounds like your cook could follow the recipe. Thank you for being my editor on this one. Funny, I was thinking of growing tomatillos this summer in our plot. I think someone posted that they grow them, but didn’t know what to do with them. I will ask if they will forward us some gardening tips so we have a successful crop. PS. I love the word too!

  6. We absolutely loved this recipe when we had it a few months ago!!! We will be having it again for sure!!!

    • Laura, thx for the tip on the shortcut. I will post as a suggestion. On some Saturday, try roasting it is kind of fun.

  7. Thank you Sue for coming over and helping us put this together. It was delicious!!!

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