Mango & Pork Chile Verde

A long time ago, well, back when I lived in Cleveland, I spent a lazy Saturday afternoon watching a PBS fund drive. Call it the tragedies of life before we could afford cable. But before you think I’m a total loser, let me mildly try to defend myself by explaining that this PBS station raised its funds with a cookbook series offer as its premium and so the fund drives would frequently showcase demonstrations of recipes from the latest volume in the series. The only one I ever bought was a collection of recipes from local restaurants– a real treasure as now I have some of Michael Symon’s recipes long before Lola was on the national radar.

But on that afternoon, the demonstrations were from home cooks and one demonstration that stuck with me was from a gentleman who made a chile verde spiked with mango. The mango, he explained, not only added sweetness but its acidic enzymes helped to break down the pork, making it even more tender. I was inspired that afternoon to try making that mango and pork chile verde and have returned to it occasionally over the years. This last time I made it, I adapted the process to use my slow cooker.

So yeah, using the slow cooker meant taking a one pot meal and turning it into a multi-pot one, but I hope what makes up for it is not having to worry about leaving a pot cooking over an open flame for a few hours. This way, you can leave for work, go shopping, or I suppose, hang out on the couch and watch a PBS fund drive for hours, while this simmers away without fear. You’ll leave a pot of beautiful, brightly colored ingredients and come back to amazing aromas, a spicy yet fruity broth, and tender morsels of meat eager to be spooned up with some toasted tortillas. And in the end, having a second pot to clean won’t matter since 1) you can either throw the slow cooker pot in the dishwasher or 2) you don’t have to scrub a pot that’s gotten gunked up from sitting on the stove. So it’s totally worth it in the end, right?

Note: Be sure to use a slightly under ripe mango here as it is better for helping to tenderize the pork and will still keep some of its firm texture rather than turning into mush. In other words, choose a mango that is mostly green on the outside with some red or orange color and is firm when squeezed with no soft or mushy spots.

  • 2 pounds pork shoulder or country pork ribs (bones removed), excess fat trimmed off
  • canola oil
  • 1 cup masa harina
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1.5 tablespoons ground cumin, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • big pinch of ground cinnamon
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 pasilla peppers
  • 1 large jalapeno
  • 1 pound tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium, slightly under ripe mango, pit removed and cut into 1/2 inch wide, 2 inch long strips.
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • chopped cilantro for garnish
  • warm tortillas, cheese, sour cream, etc. for serving

Preheat your broiler and broiler pan. Add 1 tablespoon of canola oil to a large pot or Dutch oven and heat over medium high heat. Cut pork into 2 inch pieces. Combine masa harina, oregano, 1/2 tablespoon cumin, coriander, and cinnamon on a plate. Sprinkle pork pieces with about 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper then toss the pork in the corn flour mixture to coat. Cook in batches, careful not to crowd the pot, browning each side of each piece, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove browned pork to slow cooker pot.

While pork is browning, trim the ends off the peppers and any stems off the tomatillos. Split the pasilla peppers from top to bottom and remove the seeds then flatten the pepper into a wide strip.  Toss these vegetables in about 1 tablespoon of oil and a light sprinkle of salt and pepper. Placed about 4 inches away from the heating element, broil until skins of peppers and tomatillos are charred. A total of 15-20 minutes, checking every now and then and rotating vegetables as necessary. Remove peppers to a bowl covered tightly with plastic wrap. When cool to touch, remove and discard skins. Dice the peppers, then add them and the tomatillos to the pork in the slow cooker pot.

When all pork pieces have been browned, leave about 1 tablespoon of fat in the pot then add the red onion and garlic. Cook over medium heat until onion has softened, about 5-7 minutes. Add the onions and garlic to the slow cooker pot then return pot to heat. Add 1/2 cup of chicken stock and using a wooden spoon, scrape browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Pour this into the slow cooker along with the remaining 1.5 cups of stock. Add remaining tablespoon of cumin and the mango pieces, then put the lid on the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 3. When cooking time is over, add chopped cilantro (reserving some for garnish) and adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Serve stew in bowls garnished with more cilantro and topped with other garnishes as you see fit. With warm tortillas on the side, you can either scoop up some of the stew or wrap it up like a burrito.

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Roasted Corn & Tomatillo Soup

It was another week, another 2 pounds of tomatillos from the CSA. For once, I felt inspired about the tomatillos since instead of making my usual batch of enchiladas, I thought I’d branch out into making tostadas. I told John about my idea, excited about the possibility of making refried black beans and how delicious they would be smeared on a crispy, yellow corn tortilla then topped with juicy, grilled chicken and my salsa. So imagine my surprise when John turned his nose up like he’d stepped in one of our dog’s “gifts” in the backyard. Apparently he was feeling my usual bout of green salsa ennui.

I was a little miffed, and handed over responsibility for dealing with the tomatillos to him, and for two days, I stuck to it, reminding him that I’d washed my hands of those green monsters. Then t.v. saved John. A travel show’s feature of a restaurant’s recipe for roasted corn soup gave me sudden inspiration. Instead of salsa, I’d roast corn kernels and carrots in the oven then combine them with tomatillos and pasilla peppers that were charred under the broiler. I’d let these flavors meld together in a bath of chicken broth then spice things up with cumin, coriander, and oregano. I imagined that roasting the carrots and corn would concentrate their sugars, yielding sweetness to counterbalance the smoky tomatillos and peppers.

So I put plan into action. I placed the tomatillos and the split peppers on my broiler pan and put them under the broiler. While they charred, I shucked the corn and sawed the kernels from the ears adding them to diced up orange and yellow carrots. I spread those out on a foil lined baking sheet, drizzled them with canola oil and sprinkled it all with salt and pepper. I then got ready to put the sheet in the oven and… nothing. Apparently that last broil was the final death knell for our little range. The damn oven refused to turn on anymore. I screamed my annoyance to no one in particular, and frantically kept pushing the oven heat buttons hoping that it would magically work but to no avail. My saving grace– the stove top still worked. Once calm, I gamely pulled out my largest cast iron skillet, added the corn and carrots, and used the dry heat of the pan to lightly caramelize them.

In the end, you would never have guessed that cooking this soup had been such a frustrating process. This soup blended up thickly and was beyond delicious. The peppers added a subtle heat as well as the smoky flavor I’d anticipated, while the tomatillos gave a slightly sour taste that balanced the sweetness of the corn and carrots, their flavors concentrated so that it was like tasting summer. John made up for his earlier transgression against my rule over the kitchen by adding hot sauce to the soup, giving it the acid that it had lacked, when I was too tired from the earlier oven ordeal to figure out how to make the soup taste better. Served with slices of creamy, buttery and cold avocado along with a sprinkle of cilantro provided that perfect contrast in temperatures as well as a refreshing bite to cut through the creamy soup. Try this out if you’re looking for a southwestern twist to your regular corn chowder.

Note: If you don’t have a cast iron skillet but do have a working oven, my original plan was to bake the corn and carrots in a 400 degree F oven for 20-35 minutes, or until the corn kernels have some brown specks. Be sure to mix the corn and carrots occasionally while roasting. And on a personal note– for any friends who are reading this post, no worries. This was the old range, not the shiny new replacement. 🙂

  • 3 medium pasilla peppers
  • 1 pound tomatillos, peeled and rinsed
  • canola oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 ears of corn, kernels removed from husks
  • 2 medium orange carrots, diced
  • 2 medium yellow carrots, diced
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 3 medium cloves of garlic, minced (yields about 1.5 teaspoons)
  • 1 jalapeno, minced (and seeded if you’re a wuss)
  • 2 medium stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1/4 cup masa harina
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • hot sauce, to taste
  • fresh lime juice, to taste
  • fresh cilantro and avocado slices for garnish

Heat broiler pan about 5 inches below the broiler heating element. While the pan heats, place the tomatillos in a bowl and drizzle with a 1/2 tablespoon of canola oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat each tomatillo. Cut the top and bottom tips off of the pasilla peppers, remove the seeds, then cut a slit down the pepper from top to bottom so that you can flatten it out into one large strip. Brush the skin side of each pepper “strip” with canola oil. Place tomatillos and the peppers (skin side up) on the hot broiler pan and broil until tops are charred, about 10-12 minutes. Place peppers in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap.

While peppers and tomatillos roast, heat a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat (or see note if you wish to try using your oven to use it for roasting the carrots and corn.) Mix together the corn and carrot pieces with about 1/2 tablespoon of canola oil and a little salt and pepper. Add this mixture to the skillet and cook until corn is speckled with brown spots, about 18-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a large soup pot, heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, jalapeno, and garlic and saute until vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the 1/4 cup of masa harina and stir together. Let this cook for about 1 minute before adding the chicken stock. Add the tomatillos, corn, and carrots. Peel the charred skin off the cooled peppers then dice them and add this to the pot as well. Stir in the cumin, coriander, and oregano then bring the pot to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, before adding the 1/4 cup of cream. Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth (or alternatively, add no more than 2 cups of the soup mixture to a blender at a time, pureeing while holding the lid down firmly with a towel.) Take a taste and adjust the flavors with lime juice, hot sauce, and more salt and pepper to taste. Serve in bowls with a couple of slices of avocado and a sprinkle of cilantro.

CSA Count: 6

Tomatillos, orange carrots, yellow carrots, sweet onion, jalapeno, cilantro

Baja Fish Tacos

Let me say straight off the bat that it is a pure coincidence that I’m blogging about this on Cinco de Mayo. I just don’t want you to think that I’m promoting any embarrassing bar offers of 10 cent tacos and half price margaritas to celebrate today. In fact, let’s take a moment to acknowledge what Cinco de Mayo is actually about: the Mexican army’s victory over the French (note– not the Americans) in the Battle of Puebla in what is now part of Texas. The Mexican army was able to fend off French forces who sought to take over the Puebla state to force payment of some debts. It’s not the same as Mexican Independence Day and actually has little significance in Mexico proper. In fact, it’s primarily celebrated here in the States to dedicate a day for celebrating Mexican heritage.

I won’t plead with you to make these tacos to celebrate the fifth since I can in no way claim that this is authentic Mexican food. But you should make them if you in any way love fried fish or if you’ve ever had the pleasure of eating a fried fish taco but aren’t supremely lucky enough to live in a southern California border town where they’re the best. I love how a soft, sweet and nutty corn tortilla wraps around pieces that are hot and crunchy on the outside but flaky and tender white fish on the inside. I love the peppery bite of radishes, the vinegar tang from pickled jalapenos, and the bright burst of green from cilantro all melding with the fish and a creamy chipotle mayo. I could eat my weight in fish tacos, and I say that with full knowledge that that means eating more and more tacos as my weight balloons from eating those gems. 🙂

The fish tacos I made here were made from Alaskan true cod, seasoned ahead of time then dunked in a tempura style batter made with a light ale. Instead of chipotle mayo, I made a roasted tomatillo salsa and blitzed in an avocado to make a satisfying sauce that was hot and smoky, yet creamy and silky at the same time. These are tacos that are more for celebrating the beauty of a good cerveza and hanging out near a beach than they are for celebrating the victory of the Battle of Puebla– both are worthy things to celebrate in my book.

Note: Don’t drink beer? You could probably get away with swapping out the beer in the batter with some seltzer water. The idea is to pour in a fizzy liquid that will help give plenty of lift to the batter.

Roasted Tomatillo Avocado Salsa

  • 1 lb tomatillos, peeled of their outer husks and rinsed then halved
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 large white onion, peeled and sliced in thick, half-inch rounds
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, skin intact
  • 1 medium, ripe avocado
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • juice of 1 large lime
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Fried Fish

  • 1 lb Alaskan true cod, skin removed
  • 1 tsp each dried oregano, ground cumin, and chili powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 3/4 c cake flour
  • 1/4 c cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 to 2/3 of a 12 oz can or bottle of a light beer (dark beer will not work here)
  • 4 to 6 cups of peanut oil
  • salt and pepper

Toppings

  • corn tortillas
  • shredded lettuce or cabbage
  • radishes
  • cilantro
  • pickled jalapenos and carrots

Set an oven rack about 6 inches from the top broiler in your oven and preheat your broiler pan under the high broiler setting. Brush the jalapeno, garlic cloves, onion slices, and tomatillos with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Set these on the broiler pan and broil until char marks form– this should take about 10 minutes but check every few minutes as some vegetables will char faster than others and will need to be flipped over to char the other side or removed to avoid burning. When garlic is cool enough to touch, squeeze the cloves from the skins. Roughly chop the onion and jalapeno (remove ribs and seeds from jalapeno if you want to avoid heat.) Add the onion, jalapeno, tomatillos, and garlic to a food processor bowl fitted with a chopping blade. Add honey, cilantro, cumin, avocado and lime juice, and puree until your desired texture is reached (smooth, chunky, whatever you like.) Take a taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large pot or in a deep fryer to 350 degrees F. Combine oregano, chili powder, and cumin in a small bowl, then season both sides of the fish evenly with the spice blend. Cut fish into 2 to 2.5 inch pieces. In a large bowl, combine the cake flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Slowly stir in beer (or seltzer)– you’re looking for a batter the consistency of heavy cream so be careful not to add too much. Coat the pieces of fish in the batter and add in batches to the oil, frying for about 6-7 minutes or until golden brown on both sides, flipping the pieces of fish over about half way through cooking time. Remove to a paper towel lined plate and sprinkle with a little bit of salt and pepper.

To assemble tacos, lay a smear of the salsa on a warmed corn tortilla. Add some lettuce or cabbage and several pieces of fish. Top with another smear of salsa and whatever other toppings you’d like– cilantro, radish slices, pickled jalapenos/carrots, etc.

Roasted Tomatillo Pork Stew

Maybe it’s because I just spent this morning out in the rainy, foggy cold, or maybe it’s because I just had the most delicious beef stew dinner at a friend’s house on Sunday, but I don’t think any of you will take much convincing if I were to officially declare it stew season. When it’s cold and damp outside, I can think of few more comforting ways to spend an evening than curled up with a bowl of delicious, fork tender braised meat and a whole lot of vegetables.

So why not mix it up every now and then with a twist on your average beef stew? In this case, I made this stew after seeing country style pork ribs on wicked cheap sale at Amazon Fresh– seriously, I think I bought 2 lbs for $2.37 or something ridiculously close to that. Add to it the fact that the CSA had once again unloaded a pound plus of tomatillos on me as well as some green bell peppers and I got inspired to try making a Mexican style pork stew of sorts.

I can’t quite bring myself to call this a chili verde since I doubt that anything I did here is authentic, and besides– doesn’t that call for roasted poblano peppers or something? But this still was a delicious, warming, and filling meal, especially when served on a plate of rice. The broth was slightly thick and spicy, as the braising liquid for the pork consisted of chicken stock, jalapenos, and a whole bunch of aromatics in the form of sweet onions, celery, fresh thyme and oregano. Large chunks of bright green bell pepper and fresh carrots added a touch of flare to the lime green stew. Lastly, roasting the tomatillos then pureeing them with lots of cilantro, some lime juice and jalapeno thickened the sauce as well as gave a slightly smokey taste which livened the tender pork meat. I bet you could wrap this up with some Spanish rice in a tortilla for a hearty meal, another twist on the traditional bowl of stew that’s perfect now that winter is upon us.

  • 2 to 2.5 lbs country style pork ribs
  • 2 large stalks of celery chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 jalapenos, 1 minced, 1chopped (control the heat to your wussiness taste by removing the seeds.
  • 2 cups to 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 lb tomatillos
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut the tomatillos (cleaned of their husks and washed of any sticky grossness) in half and set on a foil lined baking sheet. Add the garlic cloves and the chopped jalapeno and mix these together with about 1 tbsp olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until softened and a little charred, about 20-30 minutes. Blitz in a blender with the lime juice and cilantro until pureed. Set aside.

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil. Add the onions and cook until softened. Add the carrots, celery, minced jalapeno, and bell pepper and cook until slightly softened– another 5 minutes. Add the pork ribs, a little bit of salt and pepper as well as the thyme stalks and oregano. Cover with enough chicken stock to cover everything. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Add in the tomatillo puree and let everything cook until the pork falls off the bone, about 1.5-2 hours.

Remove the ribs from the pot and shred the meat. Add the pork back in and stir around to combine. Serve on rice, in a big bowl with tortillas on the side or wrapped in a tortilla.

CSA Count: 5

Green pepper, tomatillos, cilantro, jalapeno, carrots

Roasted Tomatillo Salad Dressing

My neighbors know that the Morrison Wong household has officially declared it the start of the warm weather season when we start eating dinner out on our front porch. All through spring and summer, both the dog and the cat get excited when they see John uncork the wine and I start moving out of the kitchen with our plated meal. The pets usually beat us to the front door, just as eager as us to absorb the late sunlight and our small but beautiful view of the Cascades and Lake Washington.

Why bring this up now that we are on the cusp of winter? Am I just rubbing salt into the wound that has been ripped open by the sun setting around 4:30 each afternoon? Well, it’s only because it’s been brought to my attention that the dog does not correlate warm weather with our eating outside, but apparently thinks we eat outside based on what’s being plated for the meal. Yesterday, I was composing “big ass cobb salads” using leftover Thanksgiving turkey. When I started to bring the plated salads out of the kitchen, our dog excitedly raced to the front door expecting that this meal would be eaten outdoors despite the overcast skies and low 40’s degree temps. Huh… is Truman perhaps commenting that John and I eat too many large salads during the summer months?

It’s true– large salads are generally not on my mind once the weather turns colder. All I want are comforting, warm meals, something that lots of ice cold lettuce does not do for me. But if I remember correctly, I made this salad on a really cool September evening. I think that the warm, broiled chicken combined with the spices in the dressing and marinade might actually make this a good salad for a cool weather night.

This salad was inspired by one thing: I had more tomatillos and simply could not face making another batch of salsa. My mind immediately went to the fabulous Mexican inspired large salads at a chain in Utah, a lunch time staple, actually. So I took lots of crisp, green lettuce and topped it with fresh corn, bell pepper slices, carrots, and of course, creamy avocado. The chicken was broiled after soaking in a marinade made with lemon, a splash of gin (would have been tequila for a smokey quality but our bar was lacking), red pepper for heat and garlic. I then made a rich salad dressing from oven roasted tomatillos, lots of lime juice and cilantro. I wanted to top it off with some crispy fried tortilla strips but had to scratch that idea when mine burned. But you know– I honestly didn’t miss having that added bit of crunch. The dressing was nicely emulsified so it was creamy but had a bright acidic tang. It enveloped the vegetables and chunks of warm chicken, making this comforting while the crisp fresh vegetables was a cooling but satisfying memory of summer with each bite.

Chicken

  • 1 lb chicken breast halves
  • 1/4 cup gin
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Dressing

  • 1 lb tomatillos, husked and rinsed of sticky goop
  • 1 tbsp olive oil and another 1/3 cup
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 tsp cumin

Salad

  • 1 head red butter leaf lettuce
  • 1 ear of corn, stripped of its kernels
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, sliced
  • 3 radishes, sliced
  • 2 scallions chopped
  • chopped cilantro (optional)

Mix together the ingredients for the marinade (everything under “Chicken” except the chicken breasts) in a bowl or in a plastic bag and let the chicken sit in that mixture for 15 minutes, turning the chicken every now and then. Don’t be put off by the discoloration– the acid from the lemon juice is cooking the chicken which is why you don’t need to marinate this for too long. Broil or grill the chicken for about 5 minutes on each side then remove to a plate tented with foil to keep the chicken warm while the juices redistribute.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cut your tomatillos in half and lay them out on a foil lined baking sheet. Mix them around with 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper then roast them for about 20 minutes or until they’re soft and a little charred looking. Blitz them in a blender or in a food processor with the cumin, lime juice, and cilantro, adding the olive oil in a steady stream through the feed tube. I think I added about 1/3 of a cup but you’re looking for the dressing to turn a light, creamy green color when it’s emulsified with enough oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Assemble your salad ingredients then cut up the chicken into bite sized chunks and use it to top your salad. Drizzle the dressing around and add a sprinkle of more cilantro. Crispy tortilla strips (or crumbled tortilla chips) would be tasty, but aren’t necessary.

CSA Count: 6

Tomatillos, corn, garlic, cilantro, red butter leaf lettuce, radishes

Chilaquiles? Migas?

tortillastripsI’m fairly certain that whenever one has tons of green salsa on hand, one is also similarly inundated with tortillas. Corn tortillas especially since I can never seem to find them sold in packs of less than 15 (ones that look decently authentic, that is.) When faced with such abundance, what is one to do? How about chilaquiles? er… I mean migas? umm… I mean, oh, eff it. You know– salsafied eggy chips.

From my years spent living in Utah, I grew to love having Mexican food for breakfast. I’ve always been more inclined towards the breakfast savory rather than the breakfast sweet, so when most of my menu choices involve tortillas, salsa, hot peppers and cheese, suddenly breakfast becomes my most favorite meal of the day. I first had chilaquiles in a café located near a park: soft scrambled eggs cuddling with strips of fried tortilla, lightly tinted green from the salsa verde and topped with gooey melted cheese. But at other restaurants, menus would list migas as a pan full of tortilla chips, soaked in salsa and mixed with softly scrambled eggs. Is there a difference or are they one and the same? Some say migas are baked while chilaquiles are cooked in a skillet. Others say that chilaquiles can be dinner as well as breakfast but migas are breakfast only. Still others say that one soaks the chips in salsa while the other is mixed in.

sungoldsnonionNot sure what to call them, I knew from looking at what I had leftover in my refrigerator this week that something along those lines had to be made. I sliced up a stack of 6 small corn tortillas and lightly fried them in a pan. Once they slightly crisped up, I replaced those strips with some diced, lightly colored purple onion and a handful of leftover sungold cherry tomatoes, thinking that these colors would hopefully pop on a bed of custardy, light green eggs. Once the tomatoes started to burst, I added back in my tortilla strips as well as some beaten eggs and folded in my leftover salsa. This was so satisfying for breakfast: the tortillas retain a hint of crisp while lying in their bed of slightly spicy but sweet, soft scrambled eggs. If you’re a food nerd, why not make a batch of these and engage in the great chilaquiles or migas debate of your own?

  • chilimigasCanola oil
  • 6 small corn tortillas
  • 1/2 large purple onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 pint sungold cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup tomatillo salsa
  • 1/2 cup shredded Monteray Jack cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 avocado, thinly sliced
  • fresh cilantro

Heat 1-2 tbsp of oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Cut your tortillas in half then slice crosswise into 1 inch wide strips. Spread the tortilla strips over the bottom of the pan in an even layer and fry until crisp, carefully adjusting the heat to avoid burning. Remove the strips to a paper towel lined plate to drain.

Add another 1-2 tsp of oil to the pan and cook your onion until softened and shiny. Add the garlic and tomatoes and continue to cook until the tomatoes begin to burst. Add the chips back into the pan along with the beaten eggs and salsa. Reduce the heat down to medium low and let the eggs and salsa absorb into the chips while setting up into a custardy mix, stirring occasionally to keep the eggs and tortillas from burning on the bottom. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. When your mixture reaches your desired degree of cookedness, plate and top with shredded cheese, and sliced avocado, garnished with the cilantro.

CSA Count: 5

Tomatillos, purple onion, fresh garlic, sungold tomatoes, cilantro

Blackened Cod Tacos

tomatilloWe resume our journey through tomatillo hell with another use for tomatillo salsa: fish tacos. As many of the cooking programs I’ve seen lately have obligingly pointed out, the tomatillo is not the same as a green tomato and is actually a relative of the gooseberry. Like gooseberries, tomatillos come in a thin, papery husk which must be removed but leaves a sticky (and I think sometimes smelly) residue which should be washed before use.

Anyway, psuedo-education bit over with for this post, let’s talk about fish tacos. I don’t think I really had a Baja style fish taco until I moved to Utah. Those tacos, with soft fillets of firm, white fish, fried in a crunchy batter, sitting on a bed of cabbage and a drizzle of chipotle mayo, were oddly readily available all over Utah. In fact, I dearly miss one local fast food chain as it was almost entirely devoted to those yummy tacos.

blackenedcodAs much as I love the Baja style tacos, I can’t get up the courage to make them at home. I may love deep fried foods, but can’t stand the idea of making them in my own home. Just the sheer thought of having that much hot oil combined with my accident-prone tendencies keeps me from expanding into the Fryolater food group. (Yes, even though we took a friend’s deep fryer off of their hands.)

So instead of frying, these fish tacos were made quickly by coating a piece of Alaskan True Cod with a mixture of Cajun spices then seared in a cast iron skillet. You still get the tender but firm fish meat plus the added bonus of the heat from the seasoning and not just from the salsa. The tacos had a slight sweetness from the corn tortillas, heat from the fish seasoning and salsa, all balanced by the acidity of the lime in the salsa and finished off with peppery, crisp radish slices. This is a great, fast cooking meal which adds a bit of sun, very important as we move into these blustery, rainy fall days.

  • blackenedfishtaco1 lb piece Alaskan True Cod (line caught for extra earth friendliness)
  • 2 tbsp Tony Checherie’s Cajun spice mix
  • 1/2 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 lb tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 1 jalapeno, halved
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • juice of 1 lime
  • splash of vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 6 corn tortillas
  • 4 radishes, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper

Make the salsa by boiling the tomatillos, onion, garlic, and jalapeno in a pot of water with a splash of vinegar for 10-12 minutes. Drain then pour contents into a food processor or blender. Add the honey and lime juice and puree. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper to taste.

Layout the radish slices on a plate and lightly salt.

Place the fillet of fish between paper towels to dry it off. Mix together the Cajun spice mix, thyme, and cayenne pepper. Sprinkle over both sides of the fish to evenly coat with spices. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat and lightly coat with oil. The pan should be really hot after about 5 minutes of heating. Cook the fish, being careful not to move it too early, about 3-4 minutes on each side.

Heat the tortillas in a dry skillet or over a gas stove flame for 15 seconds per side. Flake the fish meat, about 2-3 tbsp of meat per tortilla. Spoon some of the salsa on top and finish with radish slices. Garnish with lime wedges and fresh cilantro if you wish. You’ll also have plenty of salsa leftover, which can be used either for chips and salsa on the side or can be frozen for use in other dishes (as I ended up doing.)

CSA Count: 3

Tomatillos, jalapeno, radishes