Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tomatillos...lessons from Tracy's kitchen

Like most good home cooks I routinely create my own recipes, but before I post my Chicken Corn and Carrot Chowder recipe, that I made this morning, I thought I should preface it with some lessons from "Tracy's Kitchen".

If you have never made green salsa, green chili, or chili verde, chances are you have never used tomatillos before. Tomatillos look like green tomatoes, but they have a thin papery cover and when that's removed the skin is sticky, so you should wash them before using. The most important thing to know about tomatillos is that they are tart and tangy, with more of an acidic nature.....this is kind of important to remember when thinking about what other kinds of vegetables to cook them with.

For instance, corn. Corn is sweet, right? Or should I say you want corn to taste sweet, right? What happens when you add acid to sweetness, like vinegar with sugar? They kind of cancel each other out if you use even amounts. The more acid you add the less sweet, and the more sweet you add the less acidic something will taste.

My idea for my chicken corn and carrot chowder was that of course I would include jalapeno, along my usual onion, celery and carrots in addition to the corn. I did not want to use cream or potato to thicken the stew so I decided to use extra carrots. Extra carrots would make it thicker when I blended some of it but it should also make it even sweeter tasting (in a good way!) Sounds reasonable doesn't it?

Because I was using jalapeno it was going to naturally lend itself to a more Mexican flavored stew, so I threw in the last red bell and some cumin.....that's when I remembered the tomatillos I picked up at Mi Pueblo the other day. I'm all about adding more veggeies, therefore more nutrition, and fiber whenever, and wherever, I can, so in they went.

Now it's done...the corn chowder that is, and time for a taste..... What happened to the sweet taste of corn and carrots? Good Lord! The freakin' tomatillos! I might as well have added a cup of vinegar!

Well, all was "fixed" and the Chicken Corn Chowder is super delicious, but I will share more do's and don'ts when I post the picture and recipe next time! I'd make another batch to get it right the next time, but this one made 3 qts and we are leaving for Hungary in less than a week. I already know the changes that need to be made....the biggest one is NO tomatillos!

Oh, but it takes only 15 minutes in the PC after the pressure comes to high...a total time of way less than 1 hour for prep and finished deliciousness!


Maribel said...

How many tomatillos did you use? I think it could still work, just maybe cut down on the tomatillos since they do have a strong flavor.

Chicken and corn chowder sounds soooo good!

Tracy Reifkind said...


I fixed it! Lucky me I know how to balance flavors....sweetness alwasy balances out sour so a little sugar and voila. Next time no tomatillos at all, and I think I'll use the whole jalapeno, seeds too. It didn't have any kind of heat.

I may make a batch today (Monday) before I leave only because it's bugging me.... I've got some pork but no chicken....

the only thing I've not ever been able to fix is hard beans!

Sometimes when I pressure cook beans in a soup oe stew the beans never soften up no matter how many times I put them back on the heat....

I thought it was because somehow too much salt got into the veg mix, or the meat, and it toughened up the beans...and that may be the cause. Sometimes I think that I just bought "old beans"...whatever!

Maribel said...

That has happened to me too! The beans don't cook or some are hard. I wonder if they get stale or something at some point.

By the way, in Mexico I had corn ice-cream! OMG! I kept thinking how much you'd loooooove it!

Anonymous said...

I made green salsa for the first time this past wk and can't wait to make it again! I've alsways gone the more traditional, red salsa route because I think I was intimidated by the whole husk thing tomatillos have going on. I added some extra jalapeno and cilantro to mine for a little kick and it turned out bomb! I love the idea of your stew, I will definitely keep it in mind for my next purchase.