Saturday, May 21, 2005
In my opinion, tomatillas are a drastically underused vegetable (or are they fruit? I can never keep this stuff straight). Some of the best sauces I have ever had have had tomatillas at their base and I'm sure an imaginative person could probably think beyond the sauce for even more wonderful stuff - chopped into crepe batter? In a savory muffin with a bit of queso fresco and chives? The possibilities, I believe, are endless.
For now, though, I'm sticking with the easy stuff. Tomatilla salsa is a fairly expensive condiment and one that has me dipping into principle on a regular basis so when I noticed my local Giant offering tomatillas at a very reasonable $.99/lb. I figured making my own would be worth a try. And it was. And so it shall be for you because, after reading scores of recipes and eventually going my own way, I've decided it's pretty foolproof (my favorite kind of recipe). Here's how I went about it:
After removing the papery husk and washing the tomatillas of their slightly sticky coating I chopped off the stem end, not worrying at all about a core. Once stemmed, I processed the lot with the steel blade of my food processor, which I think saved a good deal of mess because these creatures get very watery, but a knife I'm sure is fine - as it was for the centuries before our friends at Robot Coupe came on the scene.
Anyway, for each pint of pulp, a diced extremely fine a quarter cup each of red and yellow onion and added that to the mixture. To bring in some heat, I used the last of my supply of frozen fire-roasted poblano, but you could probably use just about any pepper you like - fresh or pickled jalapeño would be nice. Next, add a bit of salt (maybe a teaspoon per pint of prepared salsa) and some cider vinegar (a teaspoon or two per pint should do it). As always, feel free to mess around with these ingredients, keeping the product fairly acidic. Add more pepper, if you like (hey! I wonder how it would be with a couple different kinds of pepper...hmm, food for thought) or a bit more salt or even more vinegar. Remember, the salsa will be very liquid - much more so than tomato salsa.
Once you're satisfied, pack the salsa into sterilized jars - as always, I used half pints - and process for 15 minutes. I'm going to let my jars sit for a couple weeks before I open them just to let everything mesh but I can tell you that the bit of salsa that was left after filling the jars and I ate fresh was very, very nice. If I can keep myself from eating it with a spoon, the canned salsa would be great with a firm-fleshed white fish or in enchiladas or, let's just say it, with chips.