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Traditional Mexican Tomatillo Recipes
Learning About The Taco And Tomatillo
Having no idea of the nature and content of Mexican dining as a world cuisine, I encountered American fast food "Mexican" at a Taco Bell restaurant in college.
The name of the chain was actually something else, but Taco Bell sprung up and then bought them out. Still, a taco here was only ground meat in a hard folded cornmeal shell, festooned with shredded lettuce and American cheese shreds, which fell out on the first bite.
This was neither convenient nor tasty, and as with most fast food dishes, it took too many to feel as if you'd had a meal. Greasy, too.
The Taco Bell "chilito" (now defunct), a flour tortilla wrapped with a white cheese and some picante sauce was something I liked and began to make at home, adding my own vegetables and seasonings. Occasionally, I would purchase a chilito through the drive thru, but not often.
The Breakfast Burrito was a good idea, which I copied at home, but breakfast at Taco Bell was short lived. Then, in about 2015, it came back with additional Americanisms like bacon and eggs.
The tomatillo was a favorite of the Maya and the Aztecs, long before Spanish explorers appeared.
The Tomatillo In the Americas
Perdue University Extension Service tells us that this plant food is known by a number of nicknames: tomatillo, husk tomato, jamberry, ground cherry.
In Spanish this food item is called: tomate de cascara, tomate de fresadilla, tomate milpero, tomate verde, tomatillo (in Mexico), miltomate (in Mexico and Guatemala). It has been found in archaeological digs dating as far back as 950 BC.
While the fruit is not a tomato as we know it, the tomatillo is but one of many round fruits and vegetables that a group of Mexican/South American Native Americans (likely Aztecs) called "tomatl."
The tomatillo grows in Southern California (the Baja Peninsula), southwards, all the way down to Guatemala. We often find them in grocery stores in North America now.
The name of this dish means Green Chili. It contains pork shoulder in a sauce of tomatillos, which appear to be tiny green tomatoes but are not. Different families leave out the potatoes or use green tomatoes or use a combination of red and green tomatoes/tomatillos - whatever you have on hand.
Rate Chile Verdi
- 10 tomatillos
- 2.5 pounds boneless pork shoulder
- 2 Tbs vegetable oil
- 1 Tbsp Mexican chicken bouillon powder
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 medium onion, cut in half
- 4 jalapeño chilies, seeded – save some of the seeds if you wish the dish to be hotter. Or use the New Mexico mild hatch chilis.
- 3 potatoes
- 1/2 Cup stewed tomatoes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Flour Tortillas
- Remove wrappers from tomatillos and wash the vegetable.
- In a blender, mix ¼ Cup stewed tomaotes, tomatillos, boullion, garlic, jalapeños, and onion. Add some pepper seeds if you want more heat.
- Trim excess fat and cut pork into 1” cubes.
- Wash potatoes and cut them to bite-size chunks.
- Using a higher-sided frying pan or iron skillet or Dutch oven, place the pan on a burner and turn the heat to moderately high. Heat the pan.
- Add the oil to frying pan and tllt pan to cover the bottom.
- Fry pork cubes just until the outsides looks white, stirring constantly so that the meat does not burn.
- Add remaining stewed tomatoes and stir, then add the blender sauce.
- Stir well and cook for 40 minutes until the meat is somewhat tender.
- Add potatoes and continue to cook until meat and potatoes are tender.
- Heat tortillas and serve with garnishes of your choice.
1 pound fresh tomatillos = 1 (11-ounce) can of tomatillos.
Hatch, New Mexico
This recipe make a large amount of flavorful relish.
- 12 Cups chopped tomatillos
- 3 Cups chopped jicama
- 3 Cups chopped Spanish onion
- 6 Cups chopped plum tomatoes
- 2 Cups chopped green bell pepper
- 1 cups chopped red bell pepper
- 1 cups chopped yellow bell pepper
- 1 cup coarse salt
- ½ gallon of spring water
- 6 Tblsp pickling spices (Whole, not ground up)
- 1 Tblsp crushed or ground red pepper
- 6 Cups sugar
- 6 cups cider vinegar
- Have 6 glass pint canning jars already clean and dry, with 2-piece (rim and flat covers) lids handy.
- Remove tomatillo husks, peel jicama and onion and wash all vegetables, icluding peppers. Then chop in a blender to medium-fine, not too small.
- Place chopped vegetables into a large saucepan.
- Dissolve salt in the water in a bowl or the jug the weater came in and pour the solution over the vegetables in the pan.
- Heat the pan until the mixture comes to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Remove pan form heat and drain through a cheesecloth-lined strainer for 15-20 minutes.
- Lay all the pickling spices and red pepper on a double layer of clean sqaure cheesecoth 6 inches on a side. Tie corners with string to make a bag.
- In a clean pot, stir together sugar, vinegar, and the spice bag. Turn heat on and bring to the boil.
- Add in the drained vegetables and cook until the relish boils again. Then imediately turn the heat down to simmer and cook uncovered for half an hour.
- Take out the spice bag and discard.
- Fill the pint jars with relish, leaving ½-inch space below the lip of each jar.
- Take out all the air bubbles in the jar by inserting a soda straw into the bubble to relase the air or by tapping the jars on the counter.
- Wipe the lips of all the jars with a damp towel asnd place each two-piece metal canning lid on top.
- Process in a boiling hot water bath in a soup kettle for 15-20 minutes. Remove the hot jars with tongs and sit on a towel on the counter and you will hear the lids pop as they seal and the tops of the lids dent down to indicate the seals. If you have too much relish, use a 7th jar or use it first, and when a jar does not seal, simply use it before the others and keep it refrigerated – it’s safe, because it’s pickled!
© 2009 Patty Inglish